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a pair of bookends :: robert b. shaw

by on September 17, 2015

Two little owls, twins down to a feather,
put in hours upholding Western Civ.
Curiously, what brought them first together
holds them apart—those words by which we live.

Centered on a black marble pedestal
each of them roosts upon his open book.
Never a hoot escapes their vesperal
calm as they brood, easy to overlook,

in a dull sheen of bronze and verdigris
guarding the upright, sober, classic row.
However distantly derived from trees,
such gathered leaves are all the leaves they know,

and would know better were they to explore
the sum of them, and not alone the ones
pinned open by their claws the while they pore.
Those folios they scan are blank and bronze,

empty reflections of their staring eyes.
I’d say they earn their space by weight and age
rather than endless hankering to be wise.
Wisdom is knowing when to turn the page.

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