They trade these old books with scarce a flip,
Some autographed, some lovingly signed.
Most have been isolated. You know when a book
Has been truly used; there’s smell, scruff of attics,
Garages, closets, some abandoned under leaky
Back yard roofs. You guess a humane history by the skin.

Trust the opened book to tell you more, the endpaper
Rhythms of forgetfulness: her scent that night now long ago,
The wind’s soft moving of the weather door, the moonlight’s matrix
On the carpet, the fan he made with her soft hair.
Inside you find a faded sunflower, you think a field’s soft scent,
You lift it out and wonder. Or here’s a linden leaf,
There a weed that bloomed in secret memory once.

On our shop wall, I pin a desiccated flower
On our giant map of London. I guess the place
Where Shakespeare’s Hermia woke to love a dunce
In Regent’s park one night, ten walking minutes from our room,
Torn tickets tucked just for us in our still precious book.

Articles by Bob Gaskin

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