On the manila-pocketed library card
inside the book’s back cover
the boxy-shoed librarian marked date
of return with a narrow rubber stamp
attached to a # 2 pencil.
Next to the box where I signed my name
were the signatures of readers
who had borrowed the books before me:
Watch for a Tall White Sail
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay
Seventeenth Summer, books
with watercolors, pen and ink sketches
and titled chapters. I felt kin
to those readers and wondered
if they ever thought of me
as under Araby-tented sheets
flashlight aimed, head pillowed
I caressed corrugated covers
dog-eared pages I loved
and read pencil-checked passages
that bowled me over.
From They Abide (March Street Press).
Used with the author’s permission.