Stacks of books

Sara Smollett

May 25, 1997

She has stacks upon stacks of books
To which all else refer as clutter.

Her clutter is not the accumulation
Of years of her life.
That is all sorted neatly
Below in the basement,
Where sits untouched,
Her stuffed animal collection,
Hand print and finger paint from kindergarten,
Dust thickly caked on mildewed photo albums,
Covering faces she would not recognize.

Her books are in no particular order
And are strewn about in randomness.
But though they are not her life
In the same way that papers and yearbooks recall,
They tell her personal history,
Trace her years of growth far better,
Are more meaningful to her.
On each yellowed page
Comes to life a face that she recognizes,
Not only as a character but as her own.
Each hallowed writer becomes
Ultimate possessor of truth,
A well from which to draw answers
And questions.

She has grown with the books,
And now they are old and battered.
She lovingly fingers a cover
With a tear in the upper corner,
Where an eight year old child
Knew not how delicate to be
With something as fragile as thoughts,
And as impermanent as paper,
Creases in time.

She turns to a page with place held by bookmark,
Not to indicate her place at a time,
But that to which she should again turn.
These books have read her one by one.
Now she again reads them
To find them all different,
Stilted and musty,
Smelling of time passed,
Tasting of life.