Melissa Cannon

Read It and Weep


The friend who tells me "I'm an open book"
is a source of wonder. A tease? Or just naive,
assuming an open book cannot deceive?

Consider those ledgers of the clever crook
the slick accountant manages to cook.
And the trickster's empty palms. Do you still believe
there was not a thing stuffed up the rustling sleeve,
after rabbits popped out, tumbling, as it shook?
Transparency's the guise that hides the hook.
An open book? A structured recitative
for any tangled tale the author cares to weave.
Suspicious words? Oh, errata you mistook,
though in every lover's heart a secret nook
conceals a place to revel, rage and grieve;
when silence speaks volumes, the effort to retrieve
what's meant demands more than a second look.

I've held an open book—a text of cryptic signs,
it mystified: no guide or reference,
obscure without the code key's missing link.
And one in my language: if the glossary defines
each term, why don't the sentences made sense?
Beware of crumbling parchment you've come to think
you understand; no, you're betrayed by a kink
of syntax, by verbs you'd have sworn were present tense.
Now this blank page—from countless tears their brine's
collected, used for invisible fading ink.
Parse, study, guess—left always in suspense
until you learn to read between the lines.