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The Librarian, Twenty Years Later, in a More Public Place

is the only way to describe her

She has long since lost track
of what she is doing
who she is talking to

She no longer quite hears the same questions,
day after day
Most of the answers
posted clearly
right under her desk

No, there is no section for
poetry, just 113 in the Dewey Decimal system,
113.2 for anthologies. She doesn’t
explain it any more, just takes you to the spot.

Creased, sharply
is the only way to describe her

You know better, of course.
You see right through her -- God help
her, she's not that complex.
Her origins are unclear, but
the story is the same. You can
see, decades ago, the failed idealism,
the lost crusader,
the hopeless belief that books

You can see,
behind that tight irritation,
the wide range of reading material:
Kant, Hobbes, the Zohar
Umberto Eco
the Marquis de Sade

You can see her wrapped around Forester, Whitman
the hooves and cunts of Sharon Olds
in a space where Steinem and Paglia have long ago stopped speaking

Oh, and she can see through you
You're not, frankly, complex.
Suited up, midday,
from the office complex across the way
convinced that a few moments in the public library
can separate you from the machine you live

Away from your one-bedroom, well-furnished apartment
your nice corner cubicle
as if that copy of Chekov changes
about you

Is it true that some people come to libraries for the people therein?

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