We stood upon the land mark bridge,
The Old City lay in ruins at our feet.
The crumbled towers blackened ‘gainst the sky,
Scrub and brush had forced the concrete to retreat.
A sudden flash of cognizant memory.
As the old and wizened face of dad surveyed,
His hand pointed out the vanquished skyline,
To a point near rusting hulks our eyes had strayed.
And there I saw what brought us most reluctantly
To this memory, a long abandoned place,
The tall marble columns now crumbling earthward,
And the words Public Library carved into the granite face.
Treasures among the ruins he cried as tears filled up his eyes
And there for half the day he rummaged through the ravaged text.
Bradbury and Hemmingway, Kipling and Tolstoy;
I wondered which one he'd latch unto next.
His grizzled hands drew them closelike dear friends,
Longfellow and Burns, Poe, Wells and more.
Then at evening with our satchels filled and clutching parchments,
We traveled homeward to the clan and left behind that shore.
Dad slept well that night so I did not regret our foray,
So well equipped again we'd ply these pages at our desire,
When in those long nights after our gathering food,
Dad would read them passionately around the roaring fire.
Then to our toiling from the ruined world we climb,
As upward into the light of a new tomorrow these words,
These sacred words we carry from the dark into the light,
We beat out plowshares from the broken swords.
Sidney E. Johnson Copyright 2003