Opening hour at the library

A crowd of people
Gathers at the library doors
Waiting for the clock to tick 1:00 p.m.

My heart warms to see it
People clamoring to enter a library
A place of books and learning
Skinny young white girl
In bright polka-dotted tights
Thirty-something black man
With the pointiest velvet shoes ever
Gray haired men with canes
Asian girls with backpacks
It’s a whole damn melting pot
On the street in front of the library

Security in their light blue shirts
Slowly, slowly open the doors
We rush down the marble-floored halls
Past the black-and-white photos of
Authors staring each other down
Margaret Atwood looks west
John Steinbeck glares back

We crowd up the narrow escalators
Quotations from Shakespeare, Twain
Faulkner and Oprah stencil the walls
Up, up, up until
Finally the third floor checkpoint
A security guard nods to a regular
“Hey, Julian”
And then we have squeezed past
Into the library proper

The melting pot of humanity
Separates into individual streams
Two-thirds of the crowd veers left
To the computers and free internet
Everyone else scatters, ant-like
Obeying some inner homing device
Circulation desk, reference books
More escalators

Four of us board an elevator
I am the only one who alights
On the 7th floor – Language and Literature
I sit at a table by a sign that reads
“Short Stories Collection”

I am alone