Today is Jewel’s birthday. This really has no effect on my life besides from the fact that her book of poetry continues to haunt me since its initial publication.
In 1998, I was working at a chain bookstore that has probably since closed. The biggest event that took place during my employment there was when Jewel came to sign her bestselling book of poetry, A Night Without Armor.
Since I didn’t care about Jewel, I also didn’t care about her book. I just pushed the cart with her book on it and kept to myself.
My boss at the time was a corporate jerk who was quick to remind me that he only derived pleasure from Christian fiction and some sci-fi. But he swore that the Jewel book of poetry was the greatest thing he’d ever read, and on my birthday, I found a gift wrapped copy in my locker with a note that read, “This book will change your life. Happy birthday, your boss and friend, Al.”
I never considered Al a friend. In fact, I really didn’t like Al, and I really didn’t want to leave the mall with that fucking book of poetry in my bag. So I left the book on the break room table, and decided that was my last day working at the shitty chain bookstore.
A year later, I broke up with a girl after dating her for one week. She was goodhearted, but would randomly say things like “You know that the fear of heights is actually the fear that you might want to jump to your death?” We broke up in a coffee shop. She made a scene. It was awkward. A week later a package arrived at my house. In it was a copy of Jewel’s book of poetry. On the first page was an inscription that read, “Fuck you, I loved you. Go to page [I forget the exact page]. I did that, and on that page, was this poem:
I Miss Your Touch
I miss your touch
like the slow migration of birds
upon my breast
silver and quick–
sabotaging the landscape
with their absence
my skin silent without
a thirsty pool of patient flesh
I threw the book in the garbage.
Five years later, a message popped up on whatever social networking site I was updating my profile on, and there was a message from that girl (who I was not “friends” with) that read: “Hi, I’d really like that Jewel book back. I loaned it to you, and expected you would be nice enough to send it back. That was five years ago.” Her address was included.
Feeling bad that I had thrown the copy she sent me into the trash, I went to the nearest chain bookstore, and purchased a copy of Jewel’s book of poetry.
“That’s maybe the single worst book in this entire store,” the smug cashier who I had a class with said to me. I took the bag and said nothing as I exited the store.
A week later, almost everybody I knew found out that I went into a bookstore, and purchased a copy of Jewel’s book of poetry. I’ll never live it down.