He was reading from a collection of James Wright. She liked to listen. She explored the scenes he described. She constructed new ones for herself—falling backward, downward into them as wakefulness dissolved and sleep encompassed her—it felt like something was hidden deep inside of a place in her soul she never knew existed. And from that first time that she lowered her hands and allowed herself to drift into the scenes that he described, she recognized a part of herself that was changing, gradually. Urgently. How to get back to that place? Until he read the words she wondered if the words had ever existed, or had they waited for him to utter them and breathe life into their shapes: letters and then words and then ideas and images poking from the soil, unfolding and coming into flower.
“Saint Judas” was the girl’s favorite poem. By day she thought about the image in the poem of a man at the mercy of hoodlums. The person who came to rescue that man was and wasn’t the one reading the poem—was and was not the one who lay beside her.
She asked him to read it that night and the language took shape in her mind. Images fashioned by sound delivered her to the chambers of her sleeping self—and when she opened her eyes and looked over and saw the sunlight on his arm and his chest rising slowly, she knew that she loved him.
It was several months before the boy realized that his copy of Saint Judas was no longer on the shelf.