by Siddiq Islam
The numb, stale air and the spiders’ feet,
Cannot disrupt this human flour,
This dead snow, this organic sleet
That softens the shelves where it starts to flower,
And my absent fingers cannot sweep
The dust from where the spiders sleep,
Nor the dust off the troops who, without bookend,
Are made to kneel, by weight shoved down.
Their chapters sigh as their covers bend.
“You left them dying,” the spiders frown,
But my absent fingers cannot stack
And realign each paperback.
Through blinds deserted at half-drawn,
While mould and moth destroy their weave,
Each violent dusk, each piercing dawn
Ignites the bookshelves that I leave,
And my absent fingers can’t shut out
The flame of day nor the chill of night.
And you, my love, lie still, at rest,
While the spiders’ footsteps invade your skin.
I was not there to dust your chest –
My absent fingers let them in.