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

Headshots of Miller and Gill

Marie-Andrée Gill: Poems in Translation from SPAWN

MARIE-ANDREE GILL
Marie-Andrée Gill’s Spawn is a surprising, colorful, virtuosic collection. Its brief, untitled poems span ’90s-kid nostalgia, the life cycle of fresh-water salmon, a coming of age, and the natural landscape of the Mashteuiatsh reserve, centered on Lake Piekuakami

Saudade

DIPIKA MUKHERJEE
In Itaparica, the beach broods / under ruddy sky. Two fishermen / and I search waves spitting / shells: ribbed green, a crown / for a queen; a conch; an obelisk; / a whorled shell; a thin swell / pink modica of a disc.

image of ceramic toy walmart

December 2019 Poetry Feature: New Poems for the Holiday Season

ADAM SCHEFFLER
A poem can’t tell you what it’s like / to be 83 and seven hours deep / into a Christmas Eve shift / at Walmart, cajoling / beeps from objects like the secret / name each of us will never / be sweetly called, can’t show / you her face and eyes like the