The Hidden Book
by a library assistant
While shelving books in the philosophy section
I came across the Physics of Aristotle
Laid on its spine
Hidden behind the books on Eastern thought.
I wondered who had hidden it there
And how long ago
And why they had never come back to take it out.
I wondered if it was a he or a she who had hidden it
And decided it was a she
And that she was cute.
I wondered how she had done on the exam
And what she was doing now
And whether she ever thought about Aristotle.
And, pushing my trolley ahead,
I thought of the hoards that archaeologists find--
The hoards of coins, or of jewellery, bronze and gold,
Or of other treasures committed unto the earth
Hidden but never reclaimed, until centuries later.
I thought of Egyptian mummies lying in state
Waiting for Anubis to bring them to judgement.
I thought of all of the scarf-wearing maverick scholars
Who sat untold hours in the British Museum Reading Room
Toiling over some tract that would remake the whole social system
And whose names now linger only in library catalogues.
I thought of the promises parents make to children
To put them to sleep. I thought of the promises children
Make to themselves, and break when they grow up;
Never to fall asleep straight after dinner
Never to see snow fall without excitement
Never to say to a child, "You'll understand when you're older".