Dewey decimal

The aged librarian sometimes uses hands
to scribble signs on book-spines
to dewey decimal the manuals
and catalog the book of psalms

Sometimes he will sweep the floors
or dust the shelves;
but when he slowly hums
a musical off-key it’s time to fall
asleep alone.

He can recommend a novel for a reading dame
(shawled in white)
He can nail a book on carpentry
(that a husband craves)
He can draw a quote by heart,
to plant seeds of voices in the recess mind of
a wordless teenage girl.

But he is always searching hidden nooks
for the book among the books.
He excavates the pockets
of the cookbook shelves;
he looks in boxes and in garbage bins.

He listens for the ink he lost,
the never indexed book that kissed him
when too young.
But the aged librarian knows:
if he ever finds the ink he lost,
he will never read again.

The library at Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)

The library at Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)

Tonight it’s Open Link Night at dVerse and Grace hosts. If you are interested in my aged librarian, it’s an ongoing series.
January 26, 2017

30 responses to “Dewey decimal

  1. This works at many levels Bjorn, almost a metaphor for life, the books representing time or events of one’s life. Hope you’ll put the whole series somewhere, so all the pieces can be read together. Great work.

  2. Gorgeous! Love the piece – the layers and complexities, the specific words chosen and the images they create in my mind 🙂

  3. I want to meet this aged librarian. I’m sure he has read many of the same books as me…but many more as well that he could recommend. I love the quest that he is on…as fruitless as it may be…and both hope that he finds, and hope that he doesn’t…so that he won’t stop reading.

  4. It is wonderful that you have created this “aged librarian” series for OLN. Any character that reappears in many poems is one we can get to know, relate to, even trust I spotted a couple of verbified nouns; cool. I love the line /he listens for he ink he lost” –for me the ink is metaphor for youth.

  5. He can draw a quote by heart,
    to plant seeds of voices in the recess mind of
    a wordless teenage girl.

    He sounds enthralling, Bjorn 😀 a lovely new addition to the ‘aged librarian’ series!❤️

  6. I think you’ve hidden a message in the title: “Do we decimal?” A decimal is a dot. So I see that as representing an ellipsis. It’s like you’re saying, “Do we dot dot dot?” “Do we continue?” “Do we go on?”

    I read this last night, and the ending gave me chills. It sent my head spinning, wondering if, in this case, it’s good or bad to give up reading. Maybe it’s a sacrifice. Maybe when he finds what he’s looking for, he’ll be ready to die (i.e., stop reading — his life’s work).

    I very much like the contrast in him being aged at this point but longing for the book/girl who kissed him when he wasn’t ready yet. I presume this makes her an older woman. It even makes me wonder if she was the librarian and mentor and he a teenager or young adult.

    Listening for ink … that’s another favorite.

    The fourth stanza is my favorite.

    Oh, also … what if it’s a horror book; the kind that might literally eat him, or his mind, keeping him from ever reading him again. What if it’s some sort of evil magic that he ran from once but is hungry to fall prey to again. A Stephen King sort of scenario, I think.

  7. I didn’t realize that this was a series, Bjorn. I will have to read it completely. I used to (many decades ago) work in the U of Michigan library….and I know this fellow! Except he was a woman. LOL! Yes, I can see how it would be part you. Lovely, and sad. Not the quest, that we age before we are really finished with life and other quests.

  8. I like looking for the “book that kissed him
    when too young.” Sometimes I forget the title which makes the search harder, but the search always turns up something interesting.

  9. Wow! This is epically great – on so many levels … so I’ll be brief or I’ll be into an essay (at the very least). Suffice it to say – I would place it ‘up there’ with some of your best work – a crowded pinnacle, by now, I’m sure. Smiles!

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