Monkey’s Book Burning
(Remembering Cervantes’s Scrutiny of the Library
and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451)
Who burnt Monkey’s books?
Who took them from their shelves,
evicted them into the courtyard,
built them into book stacks, like hay,
then applied gasoline, and a lighted match?
Monkey watches in horror as smoke
and flame devour his beloveds.
He tries to approach, but the fire is too hot.
One book jumps out from the smoke,
still smoldering, and monkey
snatches it and carries it away beneath his coat,
the fire burn branded into its cover,
the skin still sizzling on monkey’s hand.
How many books were burned that day?
How many monkeys now walk in the woods,
trying to re-create their lives, circulating
their memories by word of mouth?
Moth is to candle as book is to flame.
Monkey runs his hand in and out of the candle.
He recalls the bonfires in other, far off streets
and coughs through the throat burn of smoke
as he touches the blistered scars of flame.