Life Sentence


My paperback English dictionary starts to fall apart.

I remember buying it so I could do better at crosswords,

Although in the end it got very little use for that purpose;

I never had enough time to search for the right solutions.

Later, when the edges were already becoming dog eared,

I covered the jacket with plastic to prolong its life,

Not realizing how it would outlast so many other things I

Thought would be eternal. Time and the years rolled by and

It got packed up with all my other precious things,

Moved from pillar to post, from flat to flat and house to house,

Even used sometimes for its proper purpose and for

Settling arguments about grammar and syntax. As each

Decade slipped away the pages became a little more yellow,

More brittle, more fragile. The corners a little less square,

The contents a little less current; our language always evolving.

My last move will be its last move too, no one will want it after me.

The cover hangs by a thread of tape, its once shiny coat,

Like the rest of life, far from glossy now and anyway everything

Will be on a screen in the high tech future. Each time I clear out

Another load of books I can never seem to part from this one,

As if it still holds all those answers and I just need to find them.

And when it falls off the shelf yet again, its backbone gone, and

Opens at random, I see the words Hanker, Haphazard,

Happy go lucky, Harbinger, in that order and all on the same page.




Georgina Wragg