And now my memories are of tumbled and tangled bookstores and paperback days full of reading. I saw a chap walk by with an thick, old paperback and it brought back memories of used bookstores; memories like stacks of old books, like the rooms of a house overrun by shelves and the smell of old paper.
I read at the library, and I go there to write. And when I am there it is seldom I look at the books on those shelves which are no shelves, all spacious and empty and covered in plastic the books. Better an old place, a silently old place, with dust and with windowpanes dim and begrimed; better a place where a little bell sounds like the dust in the sunlight which falls to the floor; better the smell of the paperback glue and the creak of a board and the slam of a door.
Narrow spaces like tall and long books, like books in a shelf should the spaces where books, where books in their ranks and their orders and sorts of how they should be, should be kept, should they be. Angular, upright books must be preserved in the lines of their bookstores, in the narrow descending of stairs: straight stairs into basements with a last, little turn to where the walls are stone or windowless brick,and the pipes curl under the joists above, curling stairs up to lofts where the shelves along the rail overlooking the stacked main floor and the dust on the top of the cases are low with a row of books all along, where the eaves are supported by low shelves rising toward the peak of the ceiling, where you go under a skylight and look up to see the rain, listening to it there under the roof in the brooding silence of books.
My heart’s in no highlands, nor chasing the deer, my heart’s not outdoors nor is anywhere near. My heart’s between pages, on shelves, sewn and bound; its tumbled on floors and in stacks spread around. My heart’s in a bookstore all covered with dust. It’s pages are yellow to match the worn colors I see in worn bookstores: brown dust and orange rust.
The used bookstores that rise up all over the world are what makes the all over make each place distinct. All the rest of the places are all of the same, but the ancient used book stores give places their fame.