Pulp museums, anachronisms—that’s what they are—
old soldiers dressed in fine leather jackets,
guarding knowledge and admitting access
to inquisitive index fingers worn a bit from life.
I don’t recall the volume number now—
I believe it was from “Teapot to Utah”—
where I met Mr. Tennyson laboring at his desk,
hunched over, old, bearded, intense.
He was writing lines for "In Memoriam,"
for his friend, Arthur Henry Hallam,
who had faded early into senseless, seamless death.
The poet no longer understood God or life,
and his midnight poems were an encyclopedia
of sadness seduced, of grief, questions,
and occasionally a mustard seed of hope.
On cold nights when bony branches tap the windowpane,
death’s raw reminder, I read Mr. Tennyson’s encyclopedia.
My index finger runs across the troubled rhyme and verse
as the furnace down below goes quietly to sleep.
I do not feel so lonely in the presence of his words.
Someone was investing ink to clarify a mind besieged,
and that is comfort enough, a distant mercy
for my winter-frozen heart to seize and keep.