The Book Palace on Thomas Street
It was like Kavanagh’s garden of the golden apples –
the book palace on Thomas Street.
I went to seek the news from Parnassus,
searching among slim volumes
of Clarke and Hughes and Gunn.
On a long-ago afternoon I opened one and knew
from the dates of its return
that it had passed from hand to hand,
received the imprimatur of the reader who was careless
with a cup that left a stain,
a tea-stigmata on the author’s name.
Through the book palace on Thomas Street
I stepped lightly after school.
Sunlight through the glass shone on a mood of lassitude.
Nobody made a sound, and if they did
a poker-faced Miss Jones would put a finger to her lips
to remind us of the edict not to speak
or even whisper, not to drag the chairs but lift them
to the table where I flicked
through many pages. Some musky from the years,
some so fresh
you could be in the forest with the trees.