“You who read me, are you sure of understanding my language?”
— Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel”
They say that the Library contains every possible combination of text
and so its shelves hold every book that has ever been written,
and if computers can transform images into text, pixel by pixel,
its walls are lined by every photo that has ever been taken.
And so, deep inside the Library must be the panorama I took of
my grandparents’ green-gray backyard, its bushes and pebbles,
after my grandmother said that she was selling the house
because it was too big for her alone.
Because I know too well that memories decay
into shapeless blurs with faded hues
and polaroids age and wrinkle and tear
but splashes of color on a screen are immortal.
What are we if not simply
collections of what we remember?
So when the black stone plaque engraved
with my parents’ names crumbles to airy dust
and its shadow preserved in the corners
of my consciousness slips away in the rush of time–
What meaning does our flesh have
if it is empty of our memories?
–I will walk down the infinite hallways of the Library
and open the yellowed pages of a book
to relive my grandmother’s rows of corn stalks
and the pine tree planted on the day I was born:
Crystalized shards of myself, frozen, immortalized,
scattered throughout the spiraling
hallways of the Library.