The Couple Next Door, Kim Dower

The Couple Next Door
by Kim Dower

The couple next door reads all day long.
I can see them from our adjoining hotel patios
high above the sea.
The couple next door sits
at a round white plastic table on hard chairs,
their books touching as they
turn their pages at the same time.
I listen for any sounds they might make:
soft cough, sigh of joy,
I hear nothing except for southbound traffic
on Pacific Coast Highway, distant
waves, morning sounds of housekeepers
cleaning the grounds below our deck.
The man’s book looks fat; I see him
thick glasses brand new cap
staring intently into the page,
I never see him smile so I know the book is not funny.
I never see him shake his head so I know the book does not
confuse him, but he suddenly lifts his head
looks out at the ocean, puts his hand over his mouth.
The woman looks content like her book understands her:
it’s about something she knows too well––
bringing up children, watching them grow,
saying goodbye.
I brought books too but prefer watching them:
wonder how they arrived at this place
where reading in silence carries them through the day.

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