Apology to the DC Public Library System
I only read library books
when they’re overdue.
I’ve never flipped a dog-ear
but can’t promise there aren’t stains
from the egg I hastily ate
before I turned the page.
I’ve put books on hold —
beckoning the journey
from the far library to my library —
changed my mind,
put them on hold again.
There’s one I couldn’t check out
that you called a “reference book”
and made me cross town to the special section.
I think the book is trashy
but who am I to question?
It got me there,
in a library in the flesh.
They told me to put my things in a locker
before I could touch this book
of congressional scandals.
No water bottle, ma’am. But you can take a break.
I was starving
so hid a sandwich underneath my sweater.
I’ve never taken more delicate bites.
No one has. Not even a president.
I ate the whole sandwich
and I read the whole thing
in an afternoon of windows
on a dinky orange chair that looks
too modern to be ringed by marble
yet defeated discomfort. A marvel.
A library’s flesh is made of paper,
its blood cells are librarians.
We ask too much of you, my daughter, my mother.
Thank you. Sorry. Thank you.