and shared air and breath with him, as did the roach
and the rodent. Step lightly round those scribbled scraps
that lie like leaves on untended graves. Sounds encroach,
even footfalls desecrate the quiet which wraps
this home turned cenotaph. For here silence grew
like an anthill, a maze of byways, histories trapped in a womb,
the fluid conscious of ages. Those books once lived and talked,
chattered to him like squirrels, or spoke gravely like the owl
as he fed them or was fed smiling, or laughingly mocked
like a master by his wards: a benign terror on the prowl.
Tread softly. They lie like children, dead now, in this catacomb.