Five Words

by Dennis Trudell Issue: Spring 2015
A man has some turmoil in his mind,
which he eases by writing in pencil
on a page of some library books each
weekday: “The sky goes on  forever.”
He writes it on margins at the main
library or one of the city’s branches.  
No one at his group home knows
about this.  Today again it calms him
after looking around his table near
Mysteries, writing the five words
on a page near one’s book’s middle.  
“It does,” he whispers.  He wonders
how many people have read the words.  
Some surely erased them; other books
with them have not been checked out.
But he’s done this for years -- maybe
thousands have read, “The sky goes
on forever.”  Several times he was  
almost caught.  Once a stern woman
moved to him.  “I saw that,” she said.  
“And shall report you.”  He’d imagined
this, failed to plan what to say.  If he
was barred from libraries, what would
he do?  He held up his pencil.  “I don’t
press hard.  Five words is all.”  “Yes,
doubtless ones no decent human would
utter.”  She was moving off when he
said,  “The sky . . . goes on forever.”  
“What?”  He repeated it.  “You write
that?  Why?”  Everything seemed
turning, too fast.  He closed his eyes.
When he opened them, he was alone.
No librarian came.  Soon he went
outside, looked up.  It was still true.


Dennis Trudell of Madison, Wisconsin, has poems in recent or forthcoming issues of Tulane Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Rattle, Coe Review, Common Ground Review, and Trajectory. His book Fragments in Us: Recent & Earlier Poems was published by University of Wisconsin Press. His poems have been reprinted in over twenty anthologies.