Marape once again outwits opponents
Words that mean more than they say



With skin like burnished copper parchment
this slim Eurasian lady seems in charge.
She emerges from the shadows of the shelves
and the pages of a spy yarn, now at large.

Her manner firm, attesting ownership,
insisting that I do it by the book
and sterilise my suspect Covid hands
lest I taint her tidy tomes as I look.

No idle browsing to fill a moment allowed,
she wants to know the genres she should feature,
albeit with a tentative smile in her eyes
and the tolerant mien of a patient teacher.

Feigning intent, I stroke the textured spines
and note my hostess throwing me a glance.
I flow like a river between banks of books
lapping their pastel leaves with light hands.

Poised upon their top shelf clouds they call,
the gods of literature with their golden oeuvres.
Lower, humming sirens lure me closer
to the foamy rapids of rocky love sagas.

I avoid the heady aisle of high adventure
where heroes win hard wars and conquer peaks.
I have some taste for food if not for fashion
but end up browsing bargain paperbacks.

I can’t resist raising the books to my face
and breathe the aroma of each published friend.
Milady gives me a nod. We’re on the same page.
But don’t know how this story is going to end.


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Bernard Corden

A fascinating piece, which had me reflecting on Orwell's Books v Cigarettes:

Philip Fitzpatrick


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