Ever since I was a child I have loved book plates.
I loved the sense of ownership it lent a book.
My first book plates, purchased by my mother,
still appear in books I received as a child,
my name written in her careful hand
on the scroll beneath the ship's port-hole.
As a teenager I began a life-long love affair
with Antioch Book Plates.
This one—a tree's roots entwined around a book—
was one of the first ones I bought myself.
My name is in a rounded signature that I barely recognize today.
This was followed, in my twenties, by a plate
that brought reading nooks in English cottages to mind,
and my writing grew more similar to what it would become as an adult.
The book plates of my thirties bore images of a library
that I hoped to replicate in my own home one day.
By now my name was in a hand I recognize:
artistic, almost draughtsman-like, and yes, slightly illegible.
As I grew older I discovered an evocative silhouette
that reminded me of the tree I would sit in as a child.
It was comforting to remember being buried in my favorite book,
surrounded by the scent of lilacs from a nearby hedgerow.
In my dotage, I have reverted back to book plates that are fit for a child,
of anthropomorphic creatures drinking tea in their bathrobes
whilst reading by a fire.
And so the wheel turns.
But at the heart of it are the book plates I've loved
and the possessiveness I feel
when I hold one of my books in my hands.