Issue 29: Rachael Boast

Total Library

(Ahmed Baba Institute)


‘Salt comes from the north, gold from the south and silver

from the country of the white men, but the word of God and

the treasures of wisdom are only to be found in Timbuktu.’


                                                     –  West African Proverb



Try as you might you can't

burn down a library

for words have wings

and have already risen

before you can say anything

about anything, before

the ash and the ashen winds

curl around the doorways

of the tombs of saints.

The bones of men walk on

with salt and gold

in their marrow which is

the marrow of the earth,

and the bones of holy men

and women walk on

with songs in their step

cellular to the earth.

We must think on our feet

by dancing between aisles

of angels uncatalogued.







[Rachael Boast (b.1975) is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Hotel Raphael. Her work has appeared in various magazines, including Chicago Review, Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London and The Scores. She is co-editor of The Echoing Gallery: Bristol Poets and Art in the City (Redcliffe Press, 2013) and The Caught Habits of Language: An Entertainment for W.S. Graham for Him Having Reached One Hundred (Donut Press, 2018).


Copyright © 2022 by Rachael Boast, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.