Walking across the threshold
my nose is affronted by dust and mustiness,
then underneath that vanilla extract scent comes.
The smell of old books, loved books, well-handled books,
books with broken spines and dog ears,
coffee stains on their covers
and notes from relatives:
‘Happy Birthday, love Aunt Mary’
‘Season’s Greetings, Frank! Christmas ’78’
‘To Mr Baldings, English Teacher Extraordinaire
upon your retirement.’
Love notes written in margins of epic romances,
the strict calculations of Vernians,
and the underlined and highlighted words
in a thousand textbooks read by a hundred thousand students
working towards their exams.
All books have a story,
not just the one printed on the page.