shelf life

by uzwi

Books with thickened pages. Books that smell of a damp room with an unswept chimney. You’ll get rid of them the next house move because it will probably be the last. You don’t want a lot of books for someone else to deal with, drawing down moisture, thickening all the while. One or two you remember buying but you don’t remember why. One of them has a sentence you promised you wouldn’t forget. You’ll never write the essay that proceeds from it now. You read these books incessantly & didn’t learn one thing. They pointed in every direction but they don’t have a future without you. You imagine someone saying, “They meant such a lot to him, choose anything you like,” then, when everyone has gone, looking around at all the books still left & wondering what to do with them because the charity shops aren’t interested. You don’t want that. The fact is that books–including your own, especially your own–talk all night & you wish they’d leave you alone.

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