“John Gave Rachel A Book” by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

John gave Rachel a book, ten years ago
John gave Rachel a book
Of poetry—
Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry
On the second page of the book
John had written, in green:

For Rachel, who doesn’t need
An introduction to anything—
Certainly not to poetry—
With memories of all the
Places we talked about
This book in the days when
It was three times as

Ten years later
When John and Rachel
Were no longer together
John saw the book
In a secondhand bookstore

Some pages were missing
But not the second page
John saw his own handwriting

John has believed since then
He shouldn’t give
Anything to anybody
Anything. Anybody

Maybe Rachel’s dead—
Her books were sold
Maybe Rachel’s broke—
She sold her book
John didn’t care

John has made up his mind
That he’s not going to give
Anything to anybody
Anything. Anybody

[This poem appeared in Pressed (2006) and Ygdrasil (2008). Below are some of the books I received between 2010 and 2013. See also Dedicated To….]

Featured books:
// The Truth in Rented Rooms by Koon Woon
// Towards Forgiveness by John Biggs
// Into the Light by Jane Wallace
// Mao’s Great Famine by Frank Dikötter
// On Happiness by Kenny Png & Jeremy Fernando
// Seven Studies For A Self Portrait by Jee Leong Koh
// The Mental Lives of Cities by Eddie Tay
// The Structure of Desire by W.F. Lantry


hlmTammy Ho Lai-Ming is Assistant Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature. She is the administrator of Agora. [Click here to read all entries by or about Tammy.]

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