There’s finite space to fill –
space she chose with an artist’s eye
for weight and shade,
cut up sometimes,
or framed with a careful line:
I frown and put my pencil down.
My sketch shirks sideways,
inadequate to the task.
Did the paper know she’d bought too much?
Annoyed now, I start to pull out books
from piles on crowded shelves
to stack up high beside my bed.
‘Enough to last a month, a year,’ I mutter to myself,
shoving the fulcrum further from me.
‘No hurry,’ I think. ‘No hurry.
There’s still a lifetime left.’
But through the floorboards,
the mustiness of damp wood rises
and I see, someday,
my own niece kneeling by my bed
to box up books,