Death Through the Pages of a Book

Anneke Zegers

I’ve known death through the pages of a book, and known it no other way.  
I’ve seen blood drip off knives and felt the cold shiver down  
my spine as the murderer slinks away but only through the pains the author took  
to bring me through the world she told. Tell me is it less real 
than your own? Tell me I don’t know how it feels to lose it all;  
the pages gave me paper cuts for every friend I lost  
along the way. I wear a pink sherpa and cry myself to sleep over Primrose Everdeen.  
I beat my breast for Beth March and lost the love of my life when Sydney Carton  
lost his head. I wept for days in bed for Tris Prior prior  
to discovering the next tale on my shelf. My book case is full of death’s great wealth  
of surprise demises to give me tears to cry  
in recompense for having no experience of death 
on my own. Alas, that is how I’ve learned that cold sting of loss  
I can feel and free myself from at ease. I’ve known  
sorrow through the eyes of a narrator and glimpsed in text the ache which is greater 
than it has any right to be in the annals of a story. I’ve watched  
and wept on a child’s early grave buried  
beneath a stack of books and sold off at the next garage sale  
along with a barrage of other red texts.  
I’ve witnessed warriors burn out in all their glory in falsified battles  
waging wars without context whose names and reasons I have  
no reason to remember after the end of the last word of the final chapter. I know  
what it is to cry out broken-hearted as the writer murders cruelly in the world  
she designed for my mind 
to suffer the hope of a new chapter. The bookends in existence seem awfully true  
to me, but more cruel still must be the pains and plagues  
of death in reality I have glimpsed only through the pages of a book  
I like to pretend I know.