Poem by Freddy Niagara Fonseca: “Books”

Freddy Niagara Fonseca is the editor of the anthology This Enduring Gift: A Flowering of Fairfield Poetry, featuring work by 76 talented poets who all happen to live in Fairfield, Iowa. He’s given me permission to share this lovely poem of his from the anthology. It puts into words why I feel such delight and magical connection when I find a well-thumbed book in a thrift store bin. E-books have many advantages, but they can’t do that.


Sometimes, when I think of the vast
wisdom ever contained in books—

countless scriptures of all creeds; scrolls in
indecipherable languages; tomes of science;

the great Library of Alexandria destroyed by
fire centuries ago, priceless knowledge gone;

thousands of books burned by the Third Reich;
books still held secret at the Vatican;

hieroglyphs in Egypt and whatever Atlantis
must have contributed to the written word;

books simply lost and never retrieved;
others molded, fallen apart, discarded,

and all the many books I’ll never be able to read in a
life-time even if I lived a thousand years;

and when I think of all these while browsing
at garage sales, used bookstores—(o, the good

feel of an old book and the sense of care for
books you surmise some previous owner had;

to see his or her name written on the title page,
sometimes with the date of purchase or gift)—

yes, then I tend to hold a book in my hands a little long
sometimes, deliberating whether I’ll buy,

and I read again what’s on the flap; scan a
few more pages; find a keen phrase here and there;

ponder on the title, the design, the author’s
name, weighing it all in my hand . . . And

page after page of long-forgotten lore, myth, and
adventure slowly take shape and mingle with

my own memory of myth in the back of
my mind, passing through my skin, stealing

into my bones, my heart, holding me spellbound
for a life-time it seems, and somehow beneath

my feet the deeper caves and mysteries of the earth
open wide where I glimpse that which

I cannot name but know that it exists;
and I’m feeling so strangely rooted and connected

to all cultures, beliefs, poetry, romance, peace,
wars, and history . . . and I may take the book home,

maybe not—it doesn’t matter, for as I’m
standing here, simply lost in time for a while,

some power is reclaiming everything I thought
was lost to man one time, and I see the

Great Communicator of it all in all these
many chapters, paragraphs, sentences, words

working their way with a purpose, meaning,
and conviction across so many ages,

and suddenly it seems that everything is all here now,
and really never was gone at all, as long as

books have ever existed, and readers found them,
and as I close the book, walking out to get some fresh air,

there’s all the magic in the air as of old still, and
I can live with that, and be an open book to all.

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