The Old Man and His Books

The old man,
like Ebenezer Scrooge,
lives alone in a drafty old house.
But his house, unlike Scrooges,
is stocked with books.
Hundreds of them,
on all kinds of subjects —
philosophy, science,
history, religion,
also art and poetry.
He acquired them,
for a pittance.
through used book sales.
A dollar, two dollars each.
Books published decades ago.
Products from a different era.
Pages yellowed,
weather-worn,
but nicely bound
and scented with soul.
Some with dedications.
Perhaps a gift from one lover to another.
Others with handwritten notes
written at the margins.
Records of the previous owner’s
remarks, questions and pondering.
What does he see in them?
Don’t they belong to the junk pile?
Perhaps he knows
that on a cold winter night,
these books will serve
as his only companions.
Books other people discard,
are his protection
against old age and loneliness.
He acquires them,
not for knowledge,
but for warmth.
They are his substitute
for the lost human touch.
They are his sustenance.

Written by

Published author, Zen teacher, professor, scientist, philosopher, social commentator, socially-engaged human

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