Overcome with wool and book dust
yet bloomed milky from the eye of a cough,
you leave no fingerprints on the hardbacks,
a first edition Melville perpetually open
in your tweedy tweedy lap to the same page
that makes you ponder the vast and unknowable
sea beyond the bottle bottoms of your
glasses. To be trapped somewhere
between assuage and vetiver,
to be the mug of tea half drunk and always hot.
Virgin in the library, you were born
with the essential questions quiet in your mouth
in a shaft of light at Dewey 700.3,
tilt of your heart-shaped head,
the Prell sheen of your hair—
chestnut, acorn, oh the hues of brown—
you are the single page culled from the binding.
The Western canon heaves above
though you are weightless in your awe,
your petal-folded legs.
Equal parts naivete and knowledge,
all is asked that you empty and fill
at once, that you station the hall of dead
grammar. If you stand up, what hunger
will answer for you?
If you cup your ear into the bright silence,
a bolt of hooves red in their thunder
are wresting from the stone
capital, their velvet bodies can hear
the fierce meter of your mind.
Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of Little Spells (New Issues Press, 2015), James Laughlin Award winner How to Live on Bread and Music (Perugia Press) and Salt Memory. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize, poems have recently appeared in American Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard, Kenyon Review Online, Mid-American Review, New American Writing, Puerto del Sol, Thrush and Verse Daily. For more, www.jenniferksweeney.com