the end of reading

Toby’s Room, by Pat Barker
Midway through a trilogy

poems have ends
stories have ends
even epic sagas have ends
but I never knew reading could have an end

until the reading stopped

yes, it was my voice
no, not the voice of the last two decades
not the storyteller’s voice
but the new voice, the raw voice
the voice I was striving for
the voice she didn’t want to know

when the last story came to an end
the reading stopped

a finality:
there would be no more

friendships have ends
relationships have ends
even marriages have ends
but I never knew reading would have an end


I wrote a draft of this poem in about five minutes at a workshop led by Bibi June as part of Trans Pride Edinburgh (31 March 2018) and only edited it very slightly after that. By way of background: I read to my wife almost nightly for the last twenty years or so, but she declared recently that she wasn’t able to listen to the voice that I’d been working on in speech therapy, and that tradition has now ended. The last novel I read to her was Toby’s Room, the second in a trilogy by Pat Barker.

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