What time permits, by Britta Benson

Picture credit: National Library of Scotland

A week ago, I attended a superb creative writing workshop run by the National Library of Scotland. We looked at old books and used them as inspiration for our writing.

Looking at volume three of ‘The Lyon in Mourning’, in the National Library of Scotland ‘Treasures’ exhibition, in particular the line on the title page that reads ‘as the iniquity of time would permit’, I came up with this poem.

What time permits

You, golden, fragile, your back broken many times in many ways. 

Time permits breaking.

There’s a limit to how many times our backs can be broken, before we become a museum’s piece, destined for a glass coffin to keep all our fragments, our frayed edges safe.

Time permits losing.

Edges, sometimes whole pages… Where did your missing bits go? Can you still feel what’s no longer attached to your core?

Time permits adding, too.

Someone has categorized you, gave you numbers that were never meant to be there, perhaps centuries later and by the looks more than once. 

Time permits questioning.

When will your brokenness, your not-there-anymore-ness prevail? When will you disappear with all your stories, your markings, the dirt and grime of time and even your most careful user? No more sweaty palms for you!

Now, only gloved fingers are allowed near you on special occasions.

So, what does time permit? 

Apart from breaking, losing, adding, questioning… time permits one more thing: treasuring.

6 thoughts on “What time permits, by Britta Benson

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