The Mortality of Books

By LAWRENCE RAAB

Dampness and sunshine
are equally fatal. Jackets fade, mildew
gathers. Whatever you wipe away
will surely return. But now, sliding

 

that last book back in place
you see the afternoon you first held it in your hands—
light through the lace
of the trees, and at home the sheen of the table

 

where it lay, proclaiming its beauty,
later the shelf where it remained exiled and unread,
as if its purpose had always been
to remind you of the brevity of what’s new.

 

You didn’t think about it then.
The sun was out, the books were shining
in their displays along the avenue,
and you were certain you’d fallen in love.

 

Remember that day?
Everything was a bargain. And mortality?
That was an idea,
one word among the others.

 

 

Lawrence Raab is the author of seven collections of poems, most recentlyThe History of Forgetting and A Cup of Water Turns into a Rose.

[Purchase your copy of Issue 05 here]

The Mortality of Books

Related Posts

Image of almonds pouring from a glass bowl.

Reina María Rodríguez: Poems in Translation

REINA MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ
Naturally, Flaubert’s parrot / could not be called Chucho, / his author wouldn’t stick him / with a name like that. / From which follows the importance of names. / But in the stories last night / —the reconstruction of a postcard / which we were creating...

Image of hill, river, and houses.

Joss

PATRICIA LIU
Paper is thin. In the beginning, still billows in the wind, still petal-like, still grounded in this world / of living. The incense is the only material that translates the viscera to mist. Early, the fog has not yet / lifted, and we move through the white drip as if through total darkness. Fish lost in the deep under- / water.

poetry feature image

March 2021 Poetry Feature: Sylvie Durbec

SYLVIE DURBEC
I still don’t know how to type a tilde on a computer keyboard / when writing the name of a Spanish or Portuguese writer I love. / Nor do I know what poetry is. / I don’t know whether we need it. Or not. / And what we really need here. / Elsewhere, water, bread, milk.