Wednesday, March 14, 2012

the books are whispering

I N   T H E   L I B R A R Y
by Charles Simic

for Octavio

There's a book called
"A Dictionary of Angels."
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She's very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

 Do you ever think of the patience of library books?  Do you imagine that there is a book in the library that is yours alone to discover?  The dictionary of angels, maybe.  

I'm the tall person wandering the library with my head inclined.  And I see the place is full of angels and gods, sitting in the sunlight, holding books on their laps, pulling them off the shelf with an index finger, carrying them in their arms like fine children.

The library is not a fancy store with free gift wrapping, but a place for everyone. But there are days I wish I could tie their books up with a ribbon, scatter rose petals into their serviceable book bags.  

The library isn't necessarily quiet, but you can always hear whispering.

All the books are full of rose petals.


  1. Shawna, this is going to be one of my favorite of your posts. I was once a librarian. I consider libraries to be one of the greatest (and often unappreciated) gifts we have. I love the yellow flowers and ribbons on the books. Really says a lot.

  2. thanks for sharing this, Edna! the library is a very cool place to work : )

  3. I love the Library too Shawna!
    Beautiful post/photos ♥

  4. When I was a volunteer librarian in an elementary school, I some times got the feeling that a book was lonely; that it longed to be held for awhile. Not the sort of thing you could tell people. Sort of like being on sacred ground. I loved working there (....It was just all those kids.....). Lovely post. Love the pix.


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