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There’s finite space to fill –

space she chose with an artist’s eye

for weight and shade,

cut up sometimes,

ideas half-formed,

or framed with a careful line:

off-centre, ruler-drawn.

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,

still unread.

Photo by Sam Jean from Pexels

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