Books burned are lost but not forgotten.
Their white ashes rise on the wind like doves
only to rain down on distant poets perched upon their hills.
Their voices haunt the corners of bookstores
and the garrets of writers,
and it is no secret
that starving men see visions.
Ideas are as immortal as souls.
You can tear them from their bodies
and fling their flesh on a pyre,
but in the end the heat of their release will drive you back
and they will fly free on phoenix wings
while the taste of cinnamon burns your tongue.
Someday they will come home to roost
in new fingers that birth them into new books.
Someday they will possess another poet,
another playwright, who will pour them forth
into a performance that becomes embedded in memory.
Someday they will take form and live again.
These are the ghosts of Alexandria,
the spectres of every collection ever condemned to cremation,
burned like a witch for wisdom and willfulness.
They are there in the bricks and the stones and the struts
of every library ever built – past, present, and future.
Their whispers fill the silence of the stacks.
They are the dust that once was ash.
They are the thoughts that rise like smoke signals
whenever a reader opens a book.
She, too, is there.
Her soul is as immortal as ideas.
Her love of learning endures beyond death.
She who was the last Librarian of Alexandria
lives in the heart of every girl who goes into a library
and decides to spend her life there – every girl who realizes
that math is not hard and the boys are just jealous of her gifts –
every girl who opens a book like a door
and fills the empty room of it with the furniture of her dreams.
For wherever Hypatia goes, there is Alexandria reborn.