Pat Jones

To What Base Uses We May Return

by Richard Joines

Her job, it seems, is to erase the marks,
to make light once more what was smeared and dark
by a patron with an article to write,
which no one will read, no scholar ever cite,
but there she sits, pinching her Staedtler Mars,
not illuminating, only healing scars
so that this tome might to the shelves again
be returned, seemingly untouched by men
who think nothing of ruining what’s given them
or of her, scrubbing away their marginal maxims
as if each were a sin and this her penance
to translate vanity into silence
and thus restore all things — not to perfection
but to, at least, some sufferable fiction.

Richard Joines lives in Denton, Texas, and teaches Classical Literature and Creative Writing (among other things) in the English Department at the University of North Texas. His poems have appeared in the anthology The Way We Work: Contemporary Writing from the American Workplace, The Tusculum Review, Animus, and Quarterly West.