The stone man is an interesting character, open to an array of far-reaching and unnecessary interpretations about his Meaning In The World.
Sometimes I regard him with an air of contempt. His casual lean against my literature collection—like a dockworker on his third coffee break of the day—leads me to suspect that he’s never read a book that wasn’t assigned to him by a teacher or clergyman. Sheltered by a bubble of union life and Catholic guilt, he doesn’t care for literature. He reads magazines and buys lottery tickets. He works on his car. He shovels his neighbour’s driveway in the winter, and complains about their yellowing lawn in the summer. He looks at himself in the mirror sometimes and sighs.
But from other angles, I see by the curve of his spine that he is trying. This is not a man on his third break, but quite the opposite: he is waiting for a break that will not come. He braces with all his might as though nothing’s more important than keeping my books standing. (Not sure why: horizontal books ain’t no tragedy.)
More tragic is the almost Sisyphusian way he is bound to this task; never getting to read the books against his back, or feel relief as they are read, or understand how he got where he got in the first place. He too looks at himself in the mirror and sighs.
Never thought I would empathize with a bookend.