Poem: Books Don’t Leave

Books don’t leave;
they don’t abandon;
they don’t walk away;
they don’t give up.
They stay on shelves all their lives,
waiting for the right reader.

Even when their pages are torn
and papers turn yellow,
when they’re touched by dirty fingers
or licked and turned,
when their spine breaks
or binding gives away,
when ink drops blotch them
or people scribble ruthlessly,
when silverfishes slither in
or termites bore through them,
they stay…

Even in wrong rooms
and wrong hands,
in the dusty bookshelves of
second-hand bookstores and libraries,
the neglected sections of book sales,
they wait for those readers
who will get them truly…

Sometimes they wait untouched,
or once read and forgotten,
or abandoned in resales,
or given up midway,
just before the climax
or right after a few pages…

They wait, bearing
the names and scribbles and love notes
of their ex-readers, ex-owners, and ex-lovers,
never abandoning the possibility of that one true reader.

Unlike the authors who give them away to their readers
for money and profit,
and fame and recognition,
and the high of being understood and loved,
and unlike the ex-readers who gave up on them
for guilty-pleasures,
they wait.

Even in other hands,
dog-eared, scribbled,
torn, discarded,
they yearn for you,
the ones who can delve into her depths,
won’t give up at the shallows.

They stay yours
bearing your name, your signature,
your thoughts, your scribbles,
as lines you once underlined for your loved ones,
they stay.

Books have a way of coming back to you
in memories, in thoughts, in dreams, in ideas
with deep pangs and longing
maybe you are too immature to understand
or appreciate fully, even now.

Is it a one-sided love,
a toxic relationship,
the one between a book
and the right reader?
I wonder sometimes.

Maybe books need a break, too.
They deserve better.
Maybe books should walk away
from dark places
where they are unappreciated,
run straight to the arms of the right reader
and ask them out on a date.

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