Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Public library

by Dannie Abse
From Collected Poems 1948-1976

Who, in the public library, one evening after rain,
amongst the polished tables and linoleum, 
stands bored under blank light to glance at these pages?
Whose absent mood, like neon glowing in the night, 
is conversant with wet pavements, nothing to do?

Neutral, the clock-watching girl stamps out the date, 
a forced celebration, a posthumous birthday,
her head buttered by the drizzling library lamps;
yet the accident of words, too, can light the semi-dark
should the reader lead them home, generously journey,
later to return, perhaps leaving a bus ticket as a
     bookmark.

Who wrote in margins hieroglyphic notations,
that obscenity, deleted this imperfect line?
Read by whose hostile eyes, in what bed-sitting
     rooms, 
in which rainy, dejected railway stations?