Books

Books
for Silje

Without shame I throw them into the fire.
New Yorkers, APR journals, Esquire,
after each is taken from the knee-high pile in my closet
and read. Still more arrive each week

and the pile increases: magazines, journals,
catalogs of new books, Daedalus remainders,
free offers from QPB, BOM, humble Spring Church selections.
They fill my bookcases and I buy more,

more books, more cases, the library
spilling into all the house. My daughter’s collection
forcing her toys into drawers under the bed.
Books are recycled friend to friend,

mother to daughter, new store to used,
read and reread until ultimately they perish.
Like the small paperback I placed
on the grate last night. Snug and trim as a log,

it took flame. Sucked smoke through curling pages.
My daughter stopped short and wailed –
But I haven’t read that book yet!
No matter that it has no pictures,

no matter that she is five and this
a fitting end for a 1970 marriage manual
called Strike The Original Match.
I take her weeping into my arms.

The moment palpable – how she believed
she would read every book ever written.
Small love, there are so many.
Read, and more will be written.

Consume, and more will be brought forth –
in you, and by ones like you
who love the written word
and would reach for it through fire.


Published in Prairie Schooner, 1999