The Book Collector

27 Feb

by Mani G. Iyer

For years,
he rescued them from
dark, dingy stores,
some with rickety stairs
leading to dingier floors, where
they wallowed in unread silence.
Sometimes, he found them
in swank stores with
fancy coffees and plush couches, where
they lay in chaotic clumps
crying out their unfair prices.
He brought them home,
Carver, Cheever and Chekhov,
Kafka, Marquez and Nabokov,
Narayan, Roth and Saramago,
Bukowski, Szymborska and Tagore,
and myriad more,
put them in sunlit, cherry habitats,
where they live together
as good neighbors
with fences, hard or soft.
They smiled, when
he took them all out, and
before putting them back
to their orderly lives,
lovingly dusted their jackets,
read their fronts, backs, and
random pages aloud, and
trumpeted their achievements.
They loved this attention, and
he glowed in their
luminous presence.
These days, he cannot
read their spines.
The neighborhood has
a forlorn look, and
all he can offer is,
to sit in front of them,
stare at their blurry profiles, and
recite names in full,
from scraps of memory,
and hope
they forgive him.


 Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985.  He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.


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