I have worked in a library
and let me tell you this: my job
was vital. Not just fielding
people’s questions, lending
books, but smiling, lending
an ear, or sharing quiet
conversation with society’s
most isolated and vulnerable.
One time, a young medical student
arrived overwhelmed by her new life
and she found solace among
stacks while her baby slept.
Another time a widower, so shy
that he could barely speak, whispered
to me that he loved the beauty
of his old-fashioned alarm clock.
If he were here today I like to think
he’d have set it for this hour—
this minute—to wake us up, to rattle
our bones with its annoying sound
to make us jump out of our skin
to do everything we can to quickly
save this library that’s been a haven
to our community for years.
I wrote this protest poem for friends in Aberdeen, Scotland. March 2023. They read it, and other poems, during an outdoor public protest against permanent closure of a local library.