The Last Librarian of Alexandria

Through the character of Alexandria, Stephanie Tom's rousing poem grapples with bravery and creativity.

by Stephanie Tom

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Imagine walking through a library where
every book speaks to you through the pages:
their voices are hushed, yet loud enough to let you hear
their sorrow, their exuberance, their unbridled rage,
and all of their stories whispered into your ear.
As a poet, I’m supposed to be that voice.
As a poet I’m supposed to bleed,
and my blood is thicker than the ink on paper, because
my words are made of the rage and the voices and the signs
of the people that cannot speak themselves.
I mark streaks on notebook paper that is hastily torn out,
with the fringe dangling like nerve all exposed –
as a writer, I’m all nerve and no exposition.
I am the voice that speaks without sound in a room without walls
in the middle of the world, and I am the one that
runs right off of the cliff hinging off earth as I jump into the sky
waving a flag of fragile hearts so that everyone can see them.
When walls go up, someone has to be there
to guide all of the lost and the lonely through the world,
and as the one with the power of the pen, it is my duty;
to lead all of the longing and lacking and the ones who others cannot hear,
to bring their voices into a rising crescendo, dictated by my pen,
mightier than the sword, no matter how scared I am that
the blood I shed is not enough, I must persist and carry their stories forth
into the sky so that everyone may know that their stories exist.
Imagine walking into a library where all the books have burned,
and there is no one left to scribe into existence the voices that
have never been –
I am the first one to listen to the voicemails that they leave
and start recording.

Stephanie Tom

Stephanie Tom is a high school student who lives in New York and likes to scour the internet for contemporary poetry. She writes and serves as an editor for both her school newspaper and literary magazine, and has more works in progress than she can handle at the moment.