Mark Conway

6. The Past Described, As a Figure

from The Book of Isaac, Burning


What were those days like? Remembering
is like remembering


white, or water. It’s another resemblance,
the libraries packed


with broken metaphors, book after book filled
with “water is like…”,


“white as…” When Alexandria caught fire,
the librarians burned like candles,


like suet. As for the manuscripts and their similes,
nothing was lost – it was like a fire.



“6. The Past Described, As a Figure” (from The Book of Isaac, Burning) was first published in The Paris Review, Spring, 2003.