“What We Haven’t Read” by Joseph Mills

We play the party game,
admitting what we haven’t read.
Jane Eyre, Madame Bovary,
anything of Faulkner’s.
Amid mock gasps, we name titles
with a mix of embarrassment,
swagger, and relief
that we can finally reveal
how we never made it
more than twenty pages
into Portrait of a Lady,
Middlemarch, Moby Dick.
We don’t bother pretending
we’ll get to them eventually.
We’re confessing, but unrepentant,
and then we begin to get serious:
the newspaper, warning labels,
the mortgage, legal contracts,
every Christmas card from her
for the last twenty years,
the letter he sent before he died,
the lab’s blood results last month
and this month and the next.

Joseph Mills, This Miraculous Turning

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