“Tsundoku” by William Robertson

(Japanese) The practice of buying more books than you can read.

Of course, I did.
From my first University
Women’s Book Sale where books
were piled on every table.
Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome
for a nickel?  Of course.
Twelve individual Shakespeare plays
in hard covers for 5 cents apiece?
Sold.  Goldsmith’s Collected Poems
for a quarter?  No question. 

They gave me a banana box for my
bounty, could barely carry it home,
roommates rolling their eyes
at my extravagance.  What
are shelves for, I asked.

And kept asking.  Second-hand stores,
author readings, church rummage sales,
book launches, I hit ‘em all
covering my walls with aspiration,
reading day and night never
to catch up, knowing, and comforted
knowing, Dame Edith waited
with stories of Pope, Proust
in three large volumes my father
got as a Book Club bonus, and
the Russians, oh, the Russians,
with tales to last out a night
when nights are longest there, of course

I bought more than I could read.

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