The poetry section of the local library grows ever smaller.
I return day after day to stand under the flickering lights,
watching the deterioration of the shelves
as they starve and shrink and finally collapse into a heap on the floor.
I assume it is the work of a thief, coming and going in the night,
his arms cradling the volumes, the anthologies, the collections
that no one will ever read again.
Today Shel Silverstein is missing.
I blow a kiss to the empty space as a final salute
before returning to my car, defeated.
Every night a new set of words is hauled away,
carried out like a sack of dirty laundry to clear space for
dusty memoirs and eight copies of Knitting for Dummies.
Today, near closing time, I caught the thief
tiptoeing by, casually slipping T.S. Eliot
into the pocket of his oversized trench coat.
I followed him home, waited for him to
retire to bed before sneaking down to his basement
where those lost books huddled together like kidnapped children.
With all the compassion I could summon, I touched my hands
to their trembling spines and whispered low:
There are still people in this town who need you.