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.   

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