Thanks to poet Gary Margolis for sharing this library-related poem.
The library sends you a notice to return
three hundred books of theirs
shelved in your personal library.
No other patron has asked to borrow
one of them over these years.
Before there were security men
and x-rays, a chip, to let the circulation
desk know where a book has been.
On a shelf. Next to a bed. In a satchel
left on a train, traveling from Paris
to Bonn and back again. You have no
way of retrieving. Or remembering
if that book was rare.
If there were notes in the margins,
you, or some other reader, wrote in pen.
Another offence against you,
in this borrowed lifetime.
Which is never long enough to pretend
you’ll have enough time, in the after-
life or here, to renew yourself.
Ignore all the overdue notices
that used to arrive by boat,
to your unaddressed island.
Where, you’re happy to assume,
no one can reach you. Or that drone
overhead, dropping its hook,
to retrieve what you don’t believe
isn’t yours. Which you can keep for
as long as there are writers,
who want you to read what they have written.
Editors and publishers who believe
in more than one reader. And buildings
as large as computers, to hold all
the books in the world, for someone
like you to take out, forget whether you have
read them or not. And where they belong.
-Gary Margolis Ph.D.
Executive Director, Emeritus,
College Mental Health Services
Associate Professor of English
and American Literatures