I love used books
with their crackling spines
and musky scent
their easily turned pages
and caressingly rough texture.
But most of all I love it
when there’s a name
written with care on the front inside cover.
Or when some handwritten note or dedication
remains like a precious artefact
speaking of another place, another time
some memory of a person I never met
some legacy of one I may never know.
I wonder where they are now
What kind of life do they live?
Do they have children?
Do they have a warm place to call their own?
Do their friends call them often?
I wonder what caused them to get rid of the book
Did it get accidently thrown in with garage sale items?
Did they grow tired of the words?
Or did it simply mock them from the shelf?
—Saying, You’ll never read me again
you never have the time to read anymore.
I wonder if perhaps they died
and the book was sold or given away
and passed from hand to hand
until it found its way into mine
to share with me some piece of that person’s life.
What influence did the book have on them?
Did it make them cry?
Did it make them angry?
Did it make them want to share it with the world?
I write my name
right below theirs
never crossing out the history of a book.
The book is mine now
but it will not always be.
It could pass down generations
leaving only the fading list of handwritten names
the yellowing pages
and the creases in the spine
I hope that one day someone will pick up an old book
see my name
and wonder who I am.