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This London by Patrick Hicks

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Outside the British Library

Hicks, Patrick


What happens to our memories
when the great pulse

                     stops.

Is it like a candle
tipping over in Alexandria,

the papyrus of our lives
just blackened smoke—

or do we ascend into a library,
one with a glass dome,

wingback chairs,
each book a garden of ink?

In this afterworld
librarians mend broken spines,
they point to shelves of light,
and store our pain

                  deep
        in the basement,
        down where the spiders grow.

Dictionaries are swollen,
plump, ripe with energy.
Only one word is censored:
that four-lettered obscenity, shhh.

So we author ourselves,
turning the heavy pages,
the calligraphy of our souls
        —scratched—
into woodpulp and rags.

Our stories may not be written to last,
but let us embrace the unknown,
let us open our arms like a book.

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