I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

13 April 2017

The Unforgiveable

Of all the various things for which
I might have withheld forgiveness,
one remains. When we moved house
and that kid helpfully watered 
the garden beds along the low veranda
and also my just unloaded tea-chests of books,
I knew what to do. 'Give me a hammer.'
I was going to claw open the lids
and set the books standing upright, 
pages open to dry. But you were fierce
insisting I must not, while she, 
the mother of the boy, soothed: 
'Just see them safe, undamaged.
Just know they will be all right.'

No matter I begged and cried.
Apart from anything else, 
I couldn't find your damn hammer.
And no-one would help. You all acted
as if I was a foolish, hysterical child.
I don't know why you took that attitude.
Was it because she was pretty; did you 
wish to impress? Was it to spare 
the feelings of the ignorant boy?
You said there was no room
to spread the books to dry – but there was.
We could easily have shifted chairs,
made more space in that vast living-room,
anything – but it had to be done at once.

Of course, when finally I was allowed
to prise the crates open, I was lucky
that only some by then bloomed with mould,
only some had the ink running and blurring
on authors' signatures, only some
were water-swollen out of shape, and only
some were destroyed beyond legibility,
and so beyond keeping. And of those,
not all were irreplaceable. Many I had not
treasured from childhood. Most were not even
expensive volumes in monetary terms.
You never said sorry. I know that you never
let yourself understand why I didn't just
get over it, like a sensible person.

Written in response to Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Books.

I should add that it was a long time ago (1987) – and since then I have always owned my own hammer!


  1. OMG, of course opening and drying them right away would have saved them. Sounds to me like a wish to impress. Argh.

  2. uh oh...very hard to digest that...why would any one act like that unless he wanted to get rid of the chest-full of books...ugh...Unforgiveable...

  3. Oh dear...that's cruel..letting those books die..they could have so easily been saved. I feel your pain.

  4. Perfectly captured! Horrible. My unforgivable book crimes are those unreturned after loaning out a good read.

  5. Oh my, what a grievous event. Only another book lover would understand.

  6. There's really no getting over destroyed books. Ever.

  7. So sad that the books were destroyed so recklessly. I hope you found some healing in writing the poem.

    1. Well, it's a long time ago, Lorena (1987). Since then, I have always owned my own hammer!

    2. Just adding a belated note to that effect to the post itself.

  8. I love the message. In the ashes of disaster you chose hope and tomorrow

    1. Not sure how you get that from this poem, Martin! I sound bitter to me. It is, after all, about being unforgiving.

  9. The tone of the poem says you've yet to get over it. And I'm right with you, some things shouldn't be forgiven or forgotten. I'm glad you have a hammer. If you need another, just let me know. I have 13... always ready.

    1. P.S. Love the adjustment you've made to your blog's layout.

    2. 13??? One in every room, two in the shed and one in the car?

      Thanks for the feedback about the blog. I am glad to know how it is perceived by others.

  10. Oh dear...this is really a sad tale!

  11. Some people don't realize the value of a book, and the comfort, it brings to one's soul. Am truly sorry, Rosemary, you had to experience this great loss.

  12. What an unfortunate story, Rosemary! I would of had a fit! Very sad and frustrating!


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