What the Spring does with Cherry Trees (A Short Talk on Booksellers)

If you look through the window of Alias bookshop at twilight – as the shopkeepers collect their wares to make their way home, just before the clock has struck the hour of pure sorrow and the courtyard clears the ground around its daffodils the way a stage clears for its dancers – you will see a young woman sitting behind a very old and very sad desk that is made of wood. You will see straight away that this woman is comfortable, that she is like a honeybee drunk with honey that is perched on a cluster of fruit. If she happens to be a redheaded bee – and hopefully she is – go inside and tell her that her skin looks like what the wind makes with illuminated leaves, that she has a voice like a bird, a heart like a house. When she speaks, cast your sad nets on her oceanic eyes. For her voice may grow thin and cracked as the tracks of seagulls on a distant shore. Tell her that her eyes are what gemologists groan about in their dreams, that her hair vexes you with the cold fussiness normally reserved for complicated organic compounds.

When she speaks, if she speaks, stop her. Tell her that her breath is for Sparrows to wander in, that her back is spied by expert architects for future waterfalls. Tell her to be quiet. Tell her you want to clasp her in your arms the way the ivy clasps the walls outside the bookshop – the way her words climb all over you (as me) from a long way off.

Dear pale and intrepid reader, before making your final purchases, go and tell her all this with great care and tenderness, as if these words were more hers than mine. Tell her this from you, as me, and then go find your own redheaded bee drunk with honey, perched on a cluster of fruit. This one is spoken for already in a headful of ways.

Go on, go and tell her right now. I’ll wait.

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