In lieu of familial grief

I think of your library

that you ordered alphabetically

falling into disarray,

as Hardy slips in beside Austen

in a nonchalant way,

Joyce sidles up to Bishop,

communion no longer forbidden.


Your books line the walls of the house,

each holding the other up;

here knowledge is as solid as timber.

Shadows crawl along spines;

Telemann’s notes bring comfort,

the pen moves in your hand,

words form, and mine, too slow.


I still look for those shoulders

to lift me to a shelf I could not reach,

the book I could not own.

To find no ending.

To feel the rush of blank pages.

To read the sketchy beginning

dashed off in an unfamiliar hand.


First published by Writing for Peace in Dove Tales: Family & Cultural Identity anthology, 2016.