216/365: Cheap Paperbacks
I'd sneak to the bookstore's back corner
where the fantasy and science fiction were kept.
They were sweet and earthy in their middles,
glue and wood hitting just the note,
the one I had recorded in my brain,
the one that brought my concentration to a zero point.
It was the smell that rose from Scholastic books
when the orders came in at school
and the teacher let me hover over the box
while she sliced through the packing tape
to tug at the folded cardboard flaps.
That was my first taste,
and, ever since, hardcovers, glossy coffee table volumes,
the best-selling larger format paperbacks and spiral-bound cookbooks
held nothing against the pocketbooks and cheapest trades,
the ones that bent like newspapers.
These held me nose deep in the back aisles,
breathing in the fumes from those with the broadest reach,
the cheap ones shelved in coach,
not even reading but imagining
the beaches and cars,
the bedrooms and bags,
the hot hands and coffee shops,
that each would come to live in.