Valerie Laws

December 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Free! All You Can Read Buffet

As a child, my mother owned half a book;
She and my father grew up hungry for words
And learning. Poverty breeds inherited greed:
Although they bought me books, my endless need
For them, devouring them in gulps, they couldn’t slake.
‘She’s read it by we get home from the shops!’
Enter the library. An all-you-can-eat free meal. I’d take
All my family’s tickets, stagger out behind a tower
Of tomes a week, scoff them swiftly in the street,
In bed, in bath, in class under the desk… gorging
From Blyton to Christie and beyond to new worlds,
Lives, voices. At university, first in the family
To go (a dream denied till then by poverty)
When not in the bar, I’d roam the stacks, celebrate
End of term feasting on non-compulsory books.
Lying in summer grass with Gide and Gitanes, wine
And Waugh as Brideshead Revisited met the Toon,
I filled up on words to fuel the books I’d write.


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