Thanks to poet Gary Margolis for sharing this library-related poem.
A Heaven We Have Left
I’m reading a novel that takes place
in 1860 in Sicily. The writing’s so good
I could be anywhere and not know
where I am. I’ve never heard of the author,
Gieuseppe di Lampedusa, who only
wrote one book, until a friend wanted
to pay me for a gift I couldn’t take
any compensation for and mailed me
this story. For listening to his wife
who was worried about their son
when my friend was out of town. Away
attending to their other son. Who said
he thought I would be carried away
by the paragraphs, the natural details married
to the psychological, how Lampedusa presents
the past as if it were the present. How he collapses
the future in a sentence. Quickly
and forever involves me in that other
century, a place not my own.
Unless I lived in Sicily in 1860
and cheered for Garibaldi the Great Unifier.
And all those underneath, accompanying stories.
I can’t ask God to give me more time
to read. To take with me when I’m gone.
Although maybe I could beseech Him, believe
beneath the ground there is a library and no
librarian, no automatic notice letting me know
when a timeless book is overdue.
When I have to return or pay to replace it.
When my friend is away so long
I feel like I’m living in a once and future century,
one of us will have to read and write about.