Lion of the Library

by Matilda Houston-Brown

Outside Leek Library, in the Staffordshire Moorlands, is a large stone statue of a lion.

I used to call him Aslan,
tangling hands in the white stone,
the mane twisted with tales,
the grace of a king contained.

His heartbeat sang stories,
plotlines weaving through his blood,
and through his peace- perhaps-
I could catch Cheshire Cat cheek.

Waiting. Guarding.
He let me wind my arms around his neck
and name myself a tamer,
even in the face of his wilderness.

I liked to think I found magic, a glint of Mistoffelees.
Or the blind courage of Puss In Boots.
Or the misunderstood mind of Crookshanks.

Now I know he has none of those.
after Leek falls into the still, isolation of night,
those cats of the stories wiggle their way out of the novels.
– the jungle kings, the wily felines, the tabbies –
they run, pouring out of the windows of books,
dancing their way to the Lion of the Library,
sitting by his feet until dawn.


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