The Smell of Library Books
John C. Mannone
more alluring than a fresh
brewed cup of coffee,
tantalizes nose, excites
eyes for what’s to come.
Many book aficionados only
search out the treasure of words,
but I’m attracted to the physics,
their differential equations, so fluid
they form their own kind of poetry.
I’m attracted to their quiet
intelligence oozing through
the spine, so when I even touch it,
the calculus of heart seeps across
by osmosis, as if a pleasant odor
Poet’s Notes: I was thinking what is it that draws me to the library? As poets and writers, we are constantly attracted to books: books on craft, the works of masters, the compendiums for our own research, etc. It’s a world of words, but (as I often jest) before my right brain came out of a coma, I was only fascinated by science & mathematics (and airplanes). Fortunately, I didn’t have to give up any of that when I started writing poetry. In fact, the sciences often provide fresh language and metaphors I often incorporate in my poetry.
In “The Smell of Library Books,” I wanted to give a little homage to those things many people fear—equations—but have their own kind of beauty that rivals poetry, at least for me. In the poem, I mention “calculus,” which is not only the “arithmetic of physics,” but also a word that means “small pebbles for counting.” In the context of the poem, it refers to the methodical heartbeats of the matter-of-fact equations, which are full of life. I embrace that!