They’re a twenty-eight volume set
sixth grade reading level, already fifteen years old.
The last box to be moved
I take them out to the station wagon
four at a time, filling the passenger’s seat.
I think of them as a person.
Knowledge as gathered and edited
humanity passed along in the code of words,
the medium of trees.
A friend asks why I’m saving relics
and I say that we are deceiving ourselves
in ciphers these days—
weightless zeroes, ones, and lit zipped files.
Archivism is being lost to digits that mean letters
that mean someone had an idea once
upon a long time past.
But they are really for my son.
Someday when he can read I think he might
pick up the heart—indigo volume,
page through it and learn something
of the way both seep and bleed.
And hearing how I carried these into our new apartment
after the divorce, up the stairs
and saved them for his tenth birthday
he’ll understand what he’s felt but couldn’t name.
Encyclopedias are good for naming.
He’ll lay the heaviness on his lap and fathom the effort
of accumulation, the weight of memory, the separateness
of himself, of his parents
in the lost treasure of ink on the canvas of trees.