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Fondly (1922)

ISSUE:  Winter 2015

She kept putting off sending him the book,
then one afternoon she recognized 
the author walking up Fifth Avenue
and followed because it was a spring day
she was on her lunch hour
and sunshine somehow assured her
that he wouldn’t turn around, but after
three blocks he stopped in Brentano’s
and moments later went off to Fiction,
and she watched as he calmly slipped
a Ring Lardner book into his coat pocket,
then quickly left with a look on his face
which said Scott was thinking of one thing,
but was moved by another.

And the next morning on her way to work
she mailed her copy of This Side of Paradise
in care of Scribner’s, along with a note
confessing that she’d followed him
but leaving out the part about the bookstore,
and when her Paradise came back weeks later
it was wrapped carefully and waiting
on her desk, and when she opened the book
and saw his inscription in blue ink, she read it
in a whisper, repeating it, and it felt
like they met once, and later Scott had phoned her
and they spoke a long time, and maybe
this was what he meant by writing “fondly”
above his name, and how it seemed forthright
yet a little lonely, on a line all by itself,
as though when he sat at his desk and wrote out
the word, other words moved out of the way. 


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