FRAGMENTS FROM ALEXANDRIA: The Merchants

We came with ivory,
with silks, with wine,
with salt and cloves and myrrh,
with pepper and frankincense,
melons and limes.

We came with books:
lists of beasts and birds,
poetry and myth,
the rantings of philosophers,
mathematics, histories,
the patterns of the stars.

They searched our ships,
they searched our sacks
for every book we had.
They kept them,
read them,
tagged them,
rolled them,
hoarded them in holes–
all the riches of the world.

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