Pencilled notes in the margin:
Look up the word “appurtenance”
Resinous scuffs mar the cover,
sticker damage, the remnants
of price tags or mementos,
maybe photos of celebrities.
The centrefold has embossed
flower stains, twins, with five
sallow petals each, stippled
spongiform centres, sepia leaves
with prominent veins and stems.
The base of a china cup has left
a tea stained circle on the inside
cover and I imagine the drinker
resting awhile, allowing the brew
to cool enough to put to her lips.
A child framed the inside front
cover with a crayon picket fence.
Green wire hangs between scarlet
posts capped with orange finials.
An Undertaker’s Guide vies
with the astronomy, computing,
aircraft and gardening volumes.
I slide Lock Picking Simplified
covertly from the shelf, flick
through oily pages, observing
that the hairpin is mightier
than the sword but high-tech
tumblers need kinetic force
from a flaming iron lance.