A Secret Connoisseur of Antiquarian Libraries

 A Secret Connoisseur of Antiquarian Libraries 

old heart pine floor
creaking underfoot
as I step into the
library of antique bookcases –
mahogany, teak, cherry, oak –
in this hidden forest of
vintage volumes,
musty scents of the wardrobe
to Narnia, of Turkish Delight,
the sting of cold wind-whipped snow,
the sounds of tropical birds
welcoming the sunrise along the wave-lapped shores of
Treasure Island,
mingled tastes of pungent stench
of soured ale permeating the
streets of drunken London in Dickens’ day, hunger and filth and bare feet
on cobblestone streets

first editions
with gold lettering and
threadbare bindings
lining every wall, floor to ceiling
books – vertical, horizontal on shelves,
stacked sideways on tables
under oil lamps and
centuries-old spectacles
an inkwell of rich indigo ink and
its vessel, a fountain pen atop
a half-finished handwritten letter never mailed to his love on the desk, nearby
a copy of The Scarlet Letter open
to the sunlight-faded names of Hester and Pearl,
tiny dust motes dancing like ghosts
at a Victorian ball
along the heavy lace-lined velvet draperies 

I stand, mesmerized,
wondering about the hands that held each book
and the worlds from which
they escaped to read…..

3 Replies to “A Secret Connoisseur of Antiquarian Libraries”

  1. Kim, do you know the poem “Eating Poetry”? Seeing the picture of the library brought that poem to mind as I thought about your poem and what it means to be a connoisseur of “antiquarian libraries.”


  2. What fabulous images you wove with your words. My kids and I passed a bookstore in downtown Lancaster today that looked like the way you the one in your poem is described.


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