Thursday, December 02, 2004
phil cousineau's new collection of poems: "the blue museum" is out. thought i would share his cinematic poem on the burning of the library in sarajevo:
Black snow fell over Sarajevo,
darkening the midday sky with ashes
from the million and a half books burning
in what was once the National library.
The old librarian raced through shell-pocked streets,
his face reddening from the torrid heat pouring
out of the knot of smoking ruins where
he had spent a lifetime rescuing words
from oblivion. Defying the snipers,
he stood on the steps of the smoldering building
wanting to save—something, anything—even
the single sheet of cindered paper that drifted towards him
through the singed air, still holding fire from the inferno.
He caught the paper, which glowed in his hand
like a black and white negative held up
to the red light inside a photographer’s darkroom.
He glared at what was once a page from a holy book,
an illuminated manuscript, and could not smell the skin
of his fingertips burning as he tried to read from what seemed
to be the last page of the last book on earth.
With time on fire, history incinerated,
the page flared, then vanished,
leaving blue and gold and red ash
on his cold, numb hands.
Staring into the fiery ruins, he began to wonder
how long it would be before he could start rebuilding
©Phil Cousineau — All Rights Reserved
from The Blue Museum,
published by Sisyphus Press, ©2004.