The Librarian's Confession

For once, the reviews on the jacket held true.

The poet's words leapt off the page,
                                                                hung in space
like Wile E. Coyote fresh off a cliff
then tumbled, a jumble of inky confetti,
speckling me.  And my chair.  And the floor.

The following day, with no small apprehension,
I took the now blank-papered paperback back
to the library counter, along with a small plastic
bag: tightly knotted, remarkably light.

''Sorry,'' I mumbled, half-wincing, half-smiling,
''I did what I could.  It was difficult, though.
It took ages to gather them up – they were everywhere.
Some may be missing.  I do have a dog…''

The librarian glanced up and smiled. ''Which one is it?
Oh, yes,'' she said, giving a shrug. ''Never mind.
It happens a lot with this fellow.  No problem.
I'll deal with it later.  We know what to do.''

''Send it back, I suppose,'' I said, ''…order a new one.''
She gave me an old-fashioned look: ''In your dreams!
What, with our funding crisis? Not worth the postage.
But if you must know – just between you and me…''

And there she explained how, that night, after closing,
she'd riffle its pages and sprinkle the contents
back in – where they'd settle, she said, into patterns:
''You know, like iron filings do with a magnet.''

''You mean it all goes back the same?'' I said.  ''No,
of course not,'' she laughed. ''Different, every time!''
I was shocked: ''No-one questions it? No-one complains?''
She gave me that look again, handed my card back:

''Love... it's contemporary poetry.  Nobody DARES.''

Ken Cumberlidge

If you have any thoughts on this poem,  Ken Cumberlidge   would be pleased to hear them.