by Boris Kokotov
He read this book all his life,
the only book he ever had.
A thousand pages with comments
at the bottom of each page.
It had been written millennia ago
by people who came from nowhere,
in a language long extinct.
But its letters were still alive;
they sung to him when he read,
always sung to him when he read:
never-ending tunes of battles,
never-ending chants of hope,
reports of bizarre events
that happened to olden people
with names as long as rivers
and lives as short as a kiss,
accounts of wars no one won
and of blows a few survived,
names of killers and names of killed,
names of prophets and names of kings.
Cryptic stories crept into his life.
Raving shadows stalked his days.
Subtle omens entered his dreams.
Divinations infused his talk.
When he died, they came to his place.
Heroes and villains, traitors and saints
made a coffin from his book,
put him in it and closed the lid.
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