Lending Books by Camille Adnot

You never returned that book I lent you
I can’t even remember the title
Was it Great Expectations, matching mine?
Was it A Good Man is hard to find? And let me observe
A lost book is hard to find.
Was it The Lives of Christopher Chant, or The Wind Singer?
I don’t know, it seems I’ve lost so many books to the likes of you.

But you see, I do remember you didn’t return it
I do remember there’s a book
Whose pages are stained with drops of tea or hot chocolate
– oh, careless me –
Whose pages are stained with my greasy fingers
– oh, how careless fingers, I wanted to know what was next so badly,
I couldn’t put the book down even for eating –
I do remember there is such a book
Not in a library,
But in your bookcase.

Did you really think you’d get away with it?
Did you really think you’d be off the hook?
Darling, don’t be silly;
What you’re hoarding in your bookcase is a piece of me
And, off the record, you can probably find a hair of mine between the leaves
Which, for the record, you’re not allowed to keep.

So I came back at you with a vengeance:
I never returned that book you gave me
Which, after all, was a gift
So I did what people do with gifts
They go away with them
And you don’t get to choose if you’ll see them again.

Perhaps what I did is far worse than what you did.
I lent you nothing but a book
But you gave me one, and what was wrapped inside it
Weighed so much more than a book…
And I’m quite sorry for it.
But you see, I never asked for you to give me such a book
And if I got to choose I’d still pick mine
I’d rather have it back, my age-old, dog-eared, smelly book
And all the characters inside it
And I have no taste for you new, shiny book
With all these romantic feelings attached to it, that weigh a ton
In my romantically unattached hands.

I am the kind of person who reads books to escape gravity
And darling, your love, it is too grave,
It pulls me back to the earth as ball and chain would.

But I suppose this is a lost battle.
I wish we could trade: I return your love and you return my book
But there is no such trade
And there’s no getting back that book.

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