When you reach a certain age,

Most likely

You can look around you and see,

The many things

You have acquired

Over the decades;

Some, surely,

Remnants of childhood,

Photographs and

A little dress

Your grandmother crocheted for you

And you wore it,

Until you were almost seven years old,

While many things from your childhood,

Such as the dollhouse and your dolls,

Were lost along the way,

Most given away by your mother

Who considered it her prerogative

To do as she wished

With your things

So that many of your belongings

And those of your brothers and sisters

Were given away or burned,

In one of her bonfires;

It appeared that none of it was ever

Really yours,

So that as you grew up and older,

And moved far from home,

You began to acquire things—

Many things,

Things you could keep or give away,

Because they were yours and yours alone.

And somehow because books were what

You treasured most,

Books began to fill your life

Lining the walls of your home

And every nook and cranny;

Oh, yes, there were other things

That took up space—

Cookie jars and recipe boxes and rolling pins,

And cookie cutters,

Lighthouses and figurines,

Salt and pepper shakers,

And cabbage patch dolls,

And dollhouses—not one dollhouse

But half a dozen doll houses;

You recognize that you are replacing

All the lost things of your childhood

But are unable to stop the collecting,

Especially the collecting of books

until you have more books

than some libraries—

but wait!

Your mother didn’t give your books away;

You did that yourself.

So how do you explain

Being a book collector?

I must have been a librarian

In a former life,

You say

And shrug.

What does it matter?


–Sandra Lee Smith





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