after a good book deal, 2004

I come prepared with reasons, but
there is no need; the man explains
that since I was here once before,
I may come again, as often as I wish
for as long as the library exists
this can be a home, if I want it

unexpected solace in the long rows
fingers running lightly across dusty spines
an easing of tension carried in tight shoulders
unwarranted, perhaps, but inescapable
since the telephone call that carried the news

I have failed to explain, over and over
the reasons for my new apprehensions

this endless plain of books,
good and bad, terrible and brilliant
mostly forgotten
is deeply reassuring
the conversation will continue
with or without my contributions

I find the one I came for,
sit down by a long, narrow window
designed to shelter words from
the ravages of sun;
start to read, and it is not long
before I long to stop, to close the book
and open another, the novel in my bag

fiction would be so much easier
than this record of broken bones,
burning tires, slit throats
missing children — and all the
missed chances, the reachings
for accord, the frustration and fury
that prevent peace, the unbearable
regret as well-intentioned actions
go hideously astray

I keep reading; old disciplines hold
and eventually there comes
an easing here as well, a hope
that understanding may come of this

the library closes; armed
with a fresh cup of chai, cinnamon-sharp,
I settle on a wooden bench,
open the novel, relishing
the perfect warmth, the moving air

soon the sky greys, small drops
kiss my bent neck
I read another paragraph, one more,
then give in — pack away the book,
start walking north and east,
away from the university, through
the rambling park, passing gold lilies,
tiny pink roses, profuse and delicious

the air is wet, heavy,
rich with possibilities —
my heart feels close to breaking
or bursting