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  You could have a big dipper   

The Librarian’s Wife by Dr. Babitha Marina Justin

CW: Strak images

She carried her books uphill,

he was Joseph evacuating Mary

on a four-thousand

mile donkey ride

over the hills.

She read, counted finches

and crows; they pecked on the landscape,

before blotting out into the leaves.

Her son inherited


eyes from the hills,

they prised him out of her pelvis

with her poems. Her husband

compiled, stashed them in the library,

she wrote them out word by word—

her words were sleeping butterflies

waiting to be torched by the sun.

Every time she picked

a book or wrote a line

his memory ached

out of them.

He wrote in his logbook,

catalogued them to his memory,

counted her high and low tides

filling his satchel

with her words,

their many-layered meanings.

Every night, he sat down and read

till the orange light of the dawn.

In the morning, he walked

down the steps

of his library

to torch her hate

as purple butterflies

in the pages, he read.


Babitha Marina Justin is an academic, a poet and an artist. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Jaggery, Fulcrum, The Scriblerus, Trampset, Constellations, Indian Literature, Singing in the Dark (Penguin), etc. Her books are Of Fireflies, Guns and the Hills (Poetry, 2015), I Cook My Own Feast (Poetry, 2019), salt, pepper and silverlinings: celebrating our grandmothers (an anthology on grandmothers, 2019), From Canons to Trauma (Essays, 2017) and Humour: Texts and Contexts (ed. Essays, 2017)

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