Books Coming to Life


Quill pens scratch, feet shuffle,

voices read aloud in droning monotones –

noise reigns here,

where books are born.

Scribes with hedge-trimmed hair

scrape sheets of sheepskin parchment,

tasting its pearly glow

with sensitive fingertips.

Purposeful clutter crowds around –

jars of coloured ink with a hundred smells;

knives for trimming quills;

needles, thread, cover-leather.

A monk with nose so sharp

it nearly punches through his skin

strides up and down, back and forth,

keeping order.


fingers all stained red and blue and green,

take the pages full of graceful script,

surround words

with images, borders, curls so bright

it takes more than the eye to see them.

A hundred years from now

someone will hold a manuscript made here,

feel every life that touched it,

hear every voice

whose hand scrawled bored, laughing notes

in the margins.

~ Marta Ziemelis. Written in Dubai, copyright 2013.


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