Ode to a library book

shiny
protective wrapper
prêt-a-porte
on subway or side street
to the park or
under a blanket
on the couch
clawed by the cat

spine
announcing
FIC
and promising a journey
to faraway lands
and other lives
magical sentences
ending in funerals
parties
coach rides
maybe a car chase
or a sex scene
thrown in for good
measure

as a child
always a book in hand
a story about people
I wanted to meet
on the playground
in the orchard
instead of
the ones I knew

even today
always a book
in my purse
just in case

sometimes
I want to rush
from cover to cover
why and what and how
who done it
sometimes
I savor each letter
each page and
stop
on page 347
terrified
the story will end
leaving me back in
my own world
alone

and never enough time
for all the books
in the library
perfect alphabetical rows
Weiman next to Weinberger
southern cozy next to Nobel
prize-winner but
where is Saramago
and Ngugi
mis-shelved misplaced
in transit or
lost

oh, sad fate
for any book to disappear
during inter-library loan
and never again
to crack with pleasure
at the opening
spine bending

lovely paper smell
musty
warm
familiar
conjuring memories of
rainy days with Laura
in the Big Woods
and locked rooms and
impossible poisons that
only Miss Marple
could fathom

and long
lazy
days
with nothing to do
but read
one after another
my library books

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