By Ian Purdie

The library stood five stories tall,

Looking up from its entrance the children felt small,

Inside they could smell all the musty old books,

And feel the silence enforced by harsh looks,

Off to one side were some tables and chairs,

And beside them there was a set of stairs,

A gaping invitation, the sweet promise of so much more,

Lurking above on the upper floors,

But an old priest was seated at the bottom,

And when the children approached, he leaned forward to stop them.

“I’m sorry but you can’t go up there,

All the books you need are right down here,”

One little boy thought that this wasn’t fair,

He asked the priest, “What’s up those stairs?”

“There’s only three letters, G, O and D,

There really is nothing that you want to see”,

A little girl didn’t listen and snuck round behind,

She ran up the stairs to see what she could find,

There was another big room filled with books at the top, 

But the stairs kept going up so she didn’t stop,

She climbed up further to another big room,

With more books on more shelves heading off in the gloom,

This time she decided to take a good look,

So she went to a shelf and opened a book,

It was all about reincarnation,

And another about alien visitation,

There were books about pyramids and books about karma,

Books about the afterlife and spiritual armour,

There was a book about dreams and one about hate,

And another that simply called itself ‘Fate’,

She put them all back and returned to the stairs,

They kept going up so she swallowed her fears,

And up she climbed till she reached the fourth floor,

Where, if she hadn’t seen enough books already, were more,

She took another book from another shelf,

But this one was about herself.

In shock she dropped it on the floor,

And ran up more stairs to escape what she’d just saw,

The top floor was different, it was bathed in light,

She stopped on the stairs amazed at the sight,

She could make out some people and asked “Who are you?”

A man stepped forward and said “Hi, I’m Lao Tsu,

And these are my friends, Jesus, Plato and Mohamad,”

“Wait a minute” said the girl, “I thought you were dead,”

“We’re all just fine but they murdered our words,

And made our messages completely absurd,”

Another man stepped forward to greet her with his smile,

“I’m Gautama the Buddha, welcome my child,

Take this with you so you never forget,”

And he gave her a lotus as their eyes met,

Suddenly the girl woke up in her bed,

It was all just a dream, it was all in her head,

But as she got up, she couldn’t but notice,

That in her hand she still held the lotus.

Other stories by Ian Purdie in A Sense of Place Magazine can be found here.