New York Public Library

New York Public Library

A book connects us to one another through time and space. We hold the author’s ideas in our hand unmediated by anything except our own curiosity.

 

I

 

The children’s room

five steps above the main floor

open shelves for young patrons

librarian’s desk near the door

 

Read pictures, read poems

hushed rustle of pages

dust motes in the window’s sunlight shaft

bindings across silk-smooth golden maple

quiet clicks stamp dates on paper slips

 

Borrow armfuls of books

 

Five steps down, secreted from infant eyes,

forbidden treasure

 

Necessary whispers only.  Perfect.

 

 

II

 

Marble beasts before limestone columns

allow passage

across hundreds of steps

mimes mug for nickels

anxious lovers suspended in anticipation of one face

arms overflow with books unaligned

 

readers ascend to their shared home

scholars climb the white flights

ernest heads bow with weight of words

 

III

 

Double-storied coffered domes over stacks,

asylum for earth’s every thought

city’s every scholar,

idler, pencil-pusher,

venerable, solitary,

prized, repudiated

                                   aged and child

have a place at this table

 

sounds brush through silent space,

talk soft at the desk,

pencils scribble,

shoes cross marble floors

index fingers slide under corners

                        impatient to turn pages

everything we touch is paper

 

thoughts from yesterday and millennia before

seined in paged nets

 

On heads bent over books

brass lamps shine gold

 

consolation for the lonely

comfort for the cold

solace for the bereft

 

stay until the midnight closing hour

 

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