Poetry: Apotheosis at the Signing Table | clivejames.com
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Apotheosis at the Signing Table

Looking ahead for places to sit down,
Come spring I might, one last time, limp downtown
And into Heffers, into Waterstones,
In either order, haul my creaking bones,
To stand, with a long-practised half-lost look,
Somewhere beside the stack of my new book
Until I’m asked to sign. As if surprised
I’ll sit down, slowly, seeming paralysed
By sheer humility as they bring stock
Of books that I forgot I wrote. I’ll sign
Each tempting title-page with my by-line
Like a machine for hours on end. The clock
Will seem not to exist. My signature
Will grow, however, steadily less sure,
Until, the felt-tip quivering in my grasp,
I scrawl the hieroglyphs of my last gasp.
A final short sip from my cup of tea
And I will topple, croaking tragically.
Slumped on the carpet, I will look around,
And all the walls of books in the background,
More splendid even than they were before,
Will seem to hear my small voice from the floor.
“Heffers or Waterstones, this is goodbye,
But I rejoice that I came here to die,
So one day those who know my books may say
That this is where he signed his life away.”