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Bookplate Quilts (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: I find bookplates, otherwise known as personalized pictures and marks placed towards the beginning of a book to show who owns it, fascinating. It sounds as if they once used to be a common way to show certain volumes were a proud part of someone’s private library, but nowadays they are just fun to see and recognize from time to time.]

Have you heard of bookplates—

       those handcrafted stamps

       pressed near the front pages

       of volumes by their owners?

Each one bears an illustration

       like a special badge worn

       to show certain books

       belong amid a private library

I have seen bookplates

        inscribed with simply “Ex-libris”

        underneath sketched bookcases

        without anything more displayed

As if only that picture

         Woven like a bookplate quilt

         could identify the individual

         more than a written name

But perhaps bookplates

        are closer to commendations

        given by each of those owners

        to signify treasured tomes

It is a joy to think that

        readers could give back

        to the stories they love best

        and want to possess forever  

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