In our local library

which the Council’s keen to close

language classes chatter while

the ranks of silent prose

and poetry and travelogues

and big, bright children’s books

scorn to plead their case, as though

well-represented crooks.


The pristine ones have probably

only had one reader

while the tattered and the well-thumbed know

how fumbling fingers, eager

to learn their story, broke their backs

and how intruding eyes

explored their secrets, and exposed

their inner truths and lies.


Maybe heaven is like that:

we’re stacked on dusty shelves

waiting for blessed but bloodless saints

to rummage for the selves

who’ll spin them some new saga, or

disturb their state of grace

by certifying the world below

remains a basket case.


And if so, do they sigh and think

they’re better off by far

now they’ve a slot in paradise

where no temptations are?

Or do they close our fables with

a sigh, as they recall

what fun it was occasionally

to stumble, and to fall?

Published in Snakeskin 255, November 2018