Princess of Deserted Books


She was a library child… With her ivory hair and a dress of cornflower blue,

She resembled a statuette of faience.

There was something wild in her lemon green eyes, which saw through

All the layers of lies, all the layers of fears and defiance.


She sat there every day, on the plum-coloured rug, wearily leaning against ice-cold walls,

Framed with serpentine mint-tinted marble.

Like bright butterfly wings books were filling the darkness of twilight-pearl, narrow halls,

In the dust-sheeted shelves finding harbour.


And her thoughts were like flames, flames of raspberry red, flames of ritual fire,

Hiding under the surface of silence and taciturn peace.

Books were there for her, loyal hounds on her guard, always ready to help and inspire,

To protect, to solve riddles, to answer the slightest caprice.


Tender library child, with her dream-clouded smile she could find any answer

On the yellowed pages of desperate, deserted books.

As she read she imagined herself – lion tamer or live coals dancer,

Much aware of how foolish and utterly useless it looks.


She felt sorry for them, for the novels with non-ragged covers,

For the stories forgotten, for words that had never been read.

And her mind filled the black-and-white papers with wildflower colours,

Letting stories to whistle, to grumble, to roar and to sing in her head.


So strange, in her curious soul those books saw their own reflection,

Face of creature unheeded, unneeded, bewildered and lost.

She had helped them by care, by kindness and deepest affection.

They had helped her by saving from numbness of hard-hearted frost.


In the evenings she walked all alone – far above shone the guiding Great Wagon,

Lilac pond in the park looked like wind-blown northerly fjord.

Bright car headlights resembled the fiery eyes of a dragon,

And long shadows of street lamps pierced ground like Excalibur sword.


And when she came back home to sleep on the half-putrid mattress,

When she closed her lemon green eyes – she imagined quiet library nooks.

She heard whispers of fantasy novels and large mythological atlas…

She – the library child, city pauper and Princess of deserted books.


Natasha Ovchinnikova

Early Harvest 2014

Poetry 3rd Place