by Sonya Taaffe



            The ghost of the librarian peruses as I pack

            the OED in twenty Alexandrian volumes

            into milk crates, shut to slabs, transparent

            to an insubstantial readeror a failed poet,

            a petty clerk with a taste for dime-store novels,

            fleshed around the reminiscence of rustled pages

            and pen-dipped ink; who might never have laid

            ten words together in his life, but his memory

            browses on them like blood. Laylight. Parcel-

            gilt. Silicited. In branch-sieved streetlight,

            half-asleep, I hear syllables in settling dust

            and the copper-throated clank of plumbing,

            pigeons’ wings ruffling on the sill; osmosis

            from closed covers into call and catechism,

            the resurrection and the life. Mannerist.

            Resplend. As though he would talk himself

            back into his body, each bare shelf meticulously

            brushed clean as I subtract Renault from Sutcliff,

            Graves from Jeffers, his attention clouded

            over my shoulder like a held breath: stray glints

            at the corners of my sight, the glasses

            his shade stubbornly wears; my hands itch

            with writer’s calluses ground into his fingers

            by accounts, not inspirations; but I lay away

            Propertius and Kallimachos and Saint Augustine

            and wonder, if I parted the pages now, what

            impress would their paper retain? Tinful. Washy.

            Falciform. He catalogues, drinks and devours.

            May he travel with me, or in my new rooms

            all the books I curl up to read will be blank.



About the Author:

Sonya Taaffe has a confirmed addiction to myth, folklore, and dead languages. Her poem “Matlacihuatl’s Gift” shared first place for the 2003 Rhysling Award, and poems and short stories of hers have been been nominated for the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Locus Award, shortlisted for the SLF Fountain Award, and honorably mentioned in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. A respectable amount of her short fiction and poetry can be found in Postcards from the Province of Hyphens and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books). She holds master's degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale.


Poem © 2008 Sonya Taaffe.