the ancient scribe

The chair from his study

in the library at Alexandria creaks

as the old man settles into it.

He wonders how many pages

he’s traveled since those

warm sea breeze afternoons.

The chair was hardly new even then,

nor he, and it struck him as no small miracle

in either case. He only creaked

when he stood up.

Opening the sacred codex here by the window

dry parchment rustles

like a dervish of leaves in autumn wind.

At the first blank page, he presses along the center

clicks off the pen cap

to continue the trail of ink

tracing the tale

of unfolding and refolding time

outside his window

soap bubbles of galaxies and gas

pop and merge,

Ozymandias empires rising, falling,

sometimes scattering across the stars.

He pauses to sip his tea

steam rising slow with the weight

of cinnamon and cardamom

He knows there are other parts of the manifold

that he cannot see and record.

He knew the first time he neared the end of the book

and a section of it folded into somewhere else

allowing new pages to appear at the end.

And he realized over slow centuries

there must be other holy men

or women, in other pencil-thin minarets,

scratching down field notes about their parts

of the origami multiverse

at five sacred hours each day

A cedar log shifts in the fireplace, spraying sparks

he wonders if there is someone recording

the story of him and the other scribes

or writing poems about them

and if he and his timeless chair will fold, like a book

themselves into some other dimension

when he is full.

Erik Richardson

Erik Richardson is a former math teacher who now works as a freelance journalist and political consultant. He and his wife also run a small company developing elearning and engaged storytelling tools for businesses around the country. His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies over the years, with his first published collection, a berserker stuck in traffic, published in 2014 and his second chapbook, song of ourself, in 2017.

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