Used Paperbacks

by Rachel Cunningham

They fill your room, drift away again,
heedless of time and always unseasonal.
You find them for a quarter, for half-price;
the faded covers come free, and the torn corners.

Other hands have done what breaking there is to do.
Their sharpness has gone, these are books that know
a little about being held; the cracks in their spines
show their willingness to be opened again.

Given worlds enough, they pile up like time,
many voices murmuring together as they settle.
The hands that have held them warm the room.
They are dark stones after sunset, old loves
dimly remembered in their torn corners.

They can teach you things sometimes,
for a quarter, for half-price. The best ones
are lined with time and heavy with good paper,
make you smile at stories that might have brought
tears, once, when told by something new.