Jo Colley

The Library is My Mother and Father

Presenting a filmpoem, with page-poem version below.

How she took me there, before I could read,
to stand beside her as she lost herself
between the silken pages of worlds.
I longed to follow her. Her bent head,
my child’s hand on her stockinged leg
steadying myself in the dust cloud.

How later I entered alone, inhaled
the scent of paper like a print hound
followed the benign librarian as
she hefted an arm of returns onto
the wooden trolley. Readers hovered
waiting to pounce.

How our house would fall silent, just
the hiss of the gas fire as we all disappeared
into private reverie. Hours would go by
as we separated behind the façade
of family, alone with our imagined selves
each of us plotting a way out.

How he was always missing, not merely
temporarily absent, like the rest of us.
How I believed he lacked the wherewithal
to share this mystery, could only choose oblivion
through the bottom of a glass. How, after he died,
I found the prize he won for poetry.

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future. Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer