Books, Personal History, Poetry

Spine Out

On a shelf in his old room, the
chosen books lie stacked, spine out,
Church mice and curious monkeys
Rabbits, foxes, dogs and griffins,
Nursery rhymes remembered:
The stories of his young life
The books he brought to me
One and one and one and one
Another and another and —
All afternoon unending.

Except it did end, that life of
only child with mom and dad.
The books moved across town
Sat on the shelves of brother,
Then little sister, weathered
the end of the marriage, saw
the coming of cats and dogs,
filled a new house to hold us,
let us grow up, sink in, get real,
our fur rubbed hard by life.

The place is rubbed hard, too,
Once fresh paint hand-printed,
Polished floors worn dully soft
By scooters, boots and paws.
Books show it, too, Covers torn,
Spines broken, turned-down pages
Love-smudged with living.
He stacks them on the shelf,
The books I must take to
the next house, the next life.

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