Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The History of a Book

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
as memories.

I hope that one day someone will pick up an old book
see my name
and wonder who I am.


  1. I'm just going to pretend blogger is like facebook and say, "LIKE!!"

  2. A wonderful sense of what connects us, in time as well as space.

  3. you are a very good poet. i also write poetry, i call it "soul song". weirdly enough, the only time i do write poetry is when i am severely depressed. the stories i write are done during periods of high mania. but even weirder is that i cannot draw a straight line with a ruler or string two blasted words, much less two sentences, together cohesively when i am calm! (hmmm...maybe it is a good thing for me i am not calm often!)

    wishing you a multitude of blessings and i would like to invite you to "drop by" my site at wordpress when you get the chance.

    marantha jenelle

  4. yes! i love that too, imagining the life of the person whose name is inscribed. this is a lovely, thoughtful poem, thank you!

    i also came by to say this: As Poets United reaches its first anniversary this week we want to thank you for your support. Over the past year, we have grown to 250 members plus and are steadily growing. Poets United is proud to have you as one of our members and look forward to another successful year. Your imagination, creativity and willingness to share with us is what makes our community such a wonderful place. Thank you for beautiful poetry and thank you for being a part of Poets United.

  5. I know that the Nook and Kindles are all the rage, but I will never give up my books in lieu of these glitzy, smart gadgets. Just found your blog through Poets United, we are within the same blogroll category. Glad that I did. I am happy to follow along.

  6. beautiful and thoughtful poem... :)


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