World Book Day 2019


My shelves are full of friends,
Sitting back to back along the rows.
Their spines recall the footprints
They have printed on my soul.

From the alcove,
Heidi smiles,
Sun-faded and familiar.
Her pages are as old as I am.
Every night for years,
She told me how little girls
Could be brave and change the world
And be homesick all at once.

Nearby, red leather and gilt letters
Hold the March sisters.
Meg, forsaking romance to build something far more real;
Amy’s gaze slowly turning from itself.
Beth, whose light touch left a deep and lasting legacy;
And Jo, who struggled with the world,
And all of its injustice,
Writing it out with ink-stained fingers.

With my friends,
I joined the circus,
Sailed boats to secret islands,
Fled the destruction of Farthing Wood,
And the bombs of the London blitz.
I heard the crunch of Narnia snow
And tasted second breakfast.

I am Hermione,
Consuming the library one shelf at a time;
I am Elizabeth Bennett,
Fighting convention with razor-sharp wit;
I am Matilda,
Standing up against power misused and abused.
I am Offred. And Tess Durbeyfield. And Hero.
The voiceless given voice.

Michelle Obama
Took me to stand on the White House Lawn;
Yusra Mardini
Pulled me into the sea from a refugee boat.
Emmeline Pankhurst
Allowed me to march beside her;
And Maya Angelou
Taught me why the caged bird sings.

Burglar Bill showed me the power of redemption,
Dr Seuss how to fall in love with words;
Lemony Snicket challenged the need for happy endings,
And Pippi Longstocking laughed at the absurd.

Every page turned,
Every woven word,
Every journey taken,
Every story unfurled,
Stitches into who we are,
And who we want to be.

Like Pi and Richard Parker, set adrift in their boat,
We choose the stories we prefer.

My shelves are full of friends,
Sitting back to back along the rows.
Old friends; new friends
To leave footprints in my soul.

Copyright © 2019 Julie Wilkinson


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