Until I die, I shall abide by books—
feeling the leather and the gilded spine,
running my thumb along the rippled edge,
sensing the musty cloth, the wormy page,
the odor of a chest or rooms untended
where some distant heir one day divined
a windfall for his bank account, and called
on me. Here, watch your step; I cannot

see, but my companion says that books
have almost filled the hallway, overflowed
the bedroom, where I feel their presence
in the night among my dreams,—Will you have
a cup of tea and scones, or else a hot cross
bun, to mark the season? Yes, all London
bustles here near Oxford Street, and I suppose
I need the sense that others are about;

but what we know most keenly is desire,
and in desire I know the darkness, not
the life I hear but that which I Imagine—
the way you, reading of the Trojan War
or the Crusades, perhaps, are startled
by the telephone, thinking of Helen’s face
instead, of Hector’s body pulled behind
the wheels of arrogance. Tamer of horses

I can never be—but rider of another world
informed by paper—and, for me, in tongues
beneath my fingertips. To sell, of course,
is necessary, and I thank you; but I need
to feel behind me, too, this field of words
aflame, where blinded poets make the Sirens
sing, and I can almost glimpse the light,
the dazzling seascape that Odysseus sailed.

From Passages, Catharine Savage Brosman, LSU Press © 1996. Used with the permission of the author.