Known a hungry reader by friends,
I welcomed books for birthday presents
possessed at one time six Huck Finns,
five Tom Sawyers. I relished the new
set of Compton’s Mom bought me at ten.
Who knew what facts I’d need or when?

Books were doors to larger rooms,
larger ideas, more interesting features
than the routine and troubles at home,
than I heard from the Baptist preacher
pleading for submission or fiery doom.
I’d rather listen to my science teachers.

My elderly biology teacher in tenth grade
shocked me raising a frog’s leg to praise
handsome muscles. She was persuaded
I was the student to whom she could pass,
Darwin’s book in a paper bag unafraid.
having asked me to wait after class,

A revival congregation one summer night
watched me an emotional kid lurch
down the aisle to surrender my life,
but many books later still in search,
the well-stocked shelves in the quiet site
of the Public Library became church.

Walter Lynn Mosley was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, earned degrees at U. of Southern Mississipi, Tulane, and TCU. Taught English at McNeese State, TCU and Northwestern State of Louisiana, then made a career in telecommunications in San Francisco and retired. He has two living children and lives in Chicagoland.