Rereading Old Books
Before you unlock your old books and discover
marginalia, long forgotten but not quite illegible,
written in a hand sharing your fingerprints,
mull over the hazard of yesterday's faded timbre.
You ride a raft of paper to make night landfall
on a continent, where beaches give way to jungles.
The few clearings might reveal ruins of people
whose dialect runs like groundwater into flooded caves
to the feet of a rain god grumbling to himself.
Here is no alter, no stone knife, no ripped heart raised
to the sun--only shadows painted before you arrived.
Were you hoping for something else?
When you shove aside the tangled liana and creeper,
you may well lay bare a Rosetta Stone of unfaded inscriptions
whose tongues chant stars steering in lost configurations,
but the gloss you recover may also crack the covert
semaphores you have used once too often.
2010 Inscape Vol. xxxv