Francisco de Quevedo
I chose each book, held it in my hands for
one last time, then placed it peacefully in
its new resting place. Old friends, they were …
I broke that friendship and set my friends free
to fulfill their promised afterlife on
another reader’s shelves.
Mind to mind, though they had
lived five hundred years ago,
I strove to engage them in lively
conversation, Bakhtinian dialogs
within our time and space, and
that space my basement library.
I loved to hear their lilting speech,
to listen to their wisdom with open eyes
and mind. I answered them with words
I quickly pencilled on each page.
One day, a man arrived from the university.
He carried them away in a delivery truck
and they were borne to a wider world.
If you see on, bless it, read it, cherish it.
Blind now my eyes that devoured their words.
Deaf now my ears that heard the dead,
for I can listen no more.
Note: “Escucho con mis ojos a los Muertos /
I listen with my eyes to the words of the dead.”
Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645)
With thanks to Nicholas Wermuth, who was kind enough to comment and help me revise and restructure this poem.