Poem: Lost Lady of the Library


Letter, letters, letters – words received via mail

That can spear or save a heart, I, this lone woman,

Have been waiting. They will not see the likes of my

Grief again – stabbed and impaled on many a pen


My sisters they do not understand,

With empty heads and flirting hands,

Better they were trapped in some loveless marriage,

Than kept alive to torment me


Don’t you see the spittle on their silken gowns –

They way they bray like toothless, slobbering hounds,

Trussed up and misaligned in fashion’s untenable manacles?


I am glad I am not thus;

That god did not misalign my judgement

To make of me a painted harlot


What have I to wait for?

I do not flirt with hands,

But a stream of words –

Words, that, strung together,

Become as molecular rivulets of opium

To soothe my stirring blood


Oh, blithe and inalienable nepenthe of literature!

You are the only thing that cuddles me when I have

No arms to hold me; you are the only things that reminds

Me the sun stills beats when winter casts its thorns about me


They all mock and laugh at me –

Indeed, call me ‘Spinster of the Library!’

And what worldly wealth have I to deny it?

I am married to my books – I cannot unproof it –

I find my husband’s arms in the lisping torrent

Of pages; in footnotes and marginalia I see the

Remainder of all those conversations I’ve never

Had, and most like, never shall


Why do I read?

Books speak to me when no one else does,

Books satisfy me when nothing else does,

Books take all the confusion and misery of

The world, and offer them up as delectable

Jewels – fragments of a shark’s broken teeth,

That are all the better for being shark-stricken


And, if I keep on reading, I hope that those words

Will mute the pain of the awareness that no words

Come to me from others – that I play a marginal role

In a play with no other characters


And when I am dead, I will still be here –

Then they’ll not call me ‘Spinster’ but –

‘The Lost Lady of the Library,’ – and I’ll

Be a comfort for all those that love to learn;

But to those that returneth letters not, I’ll be

As a scourge, a curse; I’ll be the maggots that

Brew in the throats of those that are unworthy,

Whose vengeful quills prick out the spark of each

And every bubbling hope; when the hangman’s not

Near, I’ll be the rope – and when suicide is least

Expected, it is then meet that I will have it staged


But though this librarian, irrevocably, be lost,

I am not graduated to ghosthood yet,

So I will cast myself on a bonfire of letters,

And carry myself to bed.



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