by Joseph Chaney

I’m still with my friend in France.
All winter we’ve slept and read—  
she, so many novels they  
litter the flat.  Face down on  
chairs and tables, they lie half-
finished perhaps, as she sits
somewhere else with another
or stares, entranced.  My own few  
English histories I keep  
on the desk, face up.  I like  
the look of a book looking  
back, responsive, as if I’d  
never paused or said goodbye.  
But she understands romance:
both book and reader turn to
ponder.  You can’t tell whether  
either waits for the other.   


Joseph Chaney’s poetry has previously appeared in Crazyhorse,
Roanoke Review, Prairie Schooner, The Nation, Yankee,
Beloit Poetry Journal, and other magazines.  He teaches English
literature and directs the Master of Liberal Studies Program at
Indiana University South Bend.

On “The Romance of Our Books”:
I often begin a poem by reflecting on an idea or situation that
haunts me in some way.  The experience of reading is mysterious;
a book has a life of its own.  We live among books, in
relationships with books and with reading, without reflecting on
the inherent drama.  In this poem, the books themselves have
an insistent presence, drawing the two readers apart.  I suspect
that our individual experiences with books characterize us.   

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 9, Number 2
(Fall 2014)

Copyright © 2014
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.