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For Gerd Stern

The row of books is talking like a ghost
in mildewy damp voices. Look at me.
Choose me as I was chosen by your host.

Each guest’s a world. Each world welcomes a guest.
When you have had enough of sun and sea
a line of books will beckon, friendly ghost

from a dim realm where conversations cross
the border of invisibility.
Choose me. I once was chosen by your host.

Surviving texts whose provenance is lost
present the mottled pages that you see.
The line of books is flickering like a ghost.

Which of those stories did someone love the most?
Which words sank into someone’s memory?
Choose one. Was it picked out by your host

or left in passing? You can be the first:
re-open any tome that takes your eye
years later. Each book whispers, urgent ghost:
Choose me. I was chosen by your host.