by Jackie Kay
Your names, old records, Court and Spark, Dark Side of the Moon,
A shop window welcome; open hands, new friends.
A wintery evening, nights drawing in. Warm glow:
Sisterwrite, Compendium, Silver Moon.
How you grew up reading nights to dawn.
Books you found only here, the then unknowns:
Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, Toni Cade Bambara;
The Bluest Eye held up a haunting mirror, Pecola Breedlove.
Switched lights on; eyes wide open – Sula, Corregidora
You read and read with wonder: We Are Everywhere:
Writings About Lesbian Parents! Or A Raisin in the Sun.
Voices from Women’s Liberation, Maya, Djuna, Zora,
The Spinster and Her Enemies! Or Lucille Clifton.
And by the silvery light of the bookshop you grew up
By the open door, standing alone, together,
Other readers as engrossed, browsing, basking –
The blessed benevolence, the sweet, sweet ambience
Of independent bookshops, remember Thins!
Look how you still love their names: Voltaire and Rousseau,
Grassroots, books gathering and honing your years:
Black and white striped spines, tiny irons, Viragos, Shebas,
The distinct spiral on the cover of your old The Bell Jar
Your skin’s pages; your heart’s ink, your brain’s Word Power:
Jamaica Kincaid, Bessie Head, Claribel Alegría
Don’t let them turn the lights out, dears.
Keep them safe, New Beacons, shining stars,
Look how you’ve aged with your beloved books, dear hearts.
Keep coming in, keep the bookshop door ajar.