Again, something new at today’s Poetry Marathon. Or maybe there were two new things? Or three? You’ll see, by the end of this post.
I went to Chestnut Hill College today, to the Logue Library. I’ve been to this location before and I like it. The school is only a short trip from home and everyone at the library is very friendly. I decided to do today’s session in the morning. Typically I work in the afternoon but today’s schedule worked better for trying a morning event. I liked it.
I’ve always worked in the reading room, a very large and open room with tall windows. But today, I felt like a change. I decided to take up a position in the stacks. I chose this study carrel next to the windows on the first floor. Now, this library was built in the 1950’s or so, I think, and all the interior items reflect that time period. The furniture, the shelves, the terrazzo floors in the lobby, the linoleum in the stacks – all of it is very familiar to me, having grown up in the 1960’s, and I feel at home in this kind of space.
It was a chilly rainy day outside with off and on downpours. I could hear the students as they passed outside the windows.
I was intrigued by the look of these books – turned pages out on the shelves. I don’t know why, but I love that paper.
I also enjoy seeing so many file cabinets. These are not being used anymore, no surprise to me – but I confess to a secret love of filing and organizing and so the sight of a filing cabinet makes me happy. It gives me the feeling that things are in order in one place here on earth, at least.
A librarian came by to turn on more lights for me and to apologize for the chilliness – the heater was not working well. Then she mentioned something interesting – that a cat might stop by.
Well, this was news. A cat? Turns out there is a neighborhood cat who comes to the library on a regular basis. His name is Cornelius and they call him the “Chief Cataloger”. She knew he was in the building today; a student let him in, she said, looking happy about it.
Well, I hoped for a visit. And a little while later…
I followed him down the aisle and around the corner. He paid no attention to me, but I was thrilled.
Now, I’ll discuss the actual Marathon activities. I decided to finish up compiling the poems for the poetry book I am working on. I got that done, and so now I will be working on the format of the book. I also wrote the introduction to the volume today as well, which took a little thought. I needed to reflect on what made this group of poems a coherent body.
Thinking about it, these poems were all written in response to some immediate idea or thought or image – they were not part of a Marathon or session or the like. Just thoughts that came to me in everyday life, the kind of thing squeezed in among grocery shopping and mowing the grass and so on. It’s so easy to dismiss ordinary thought as being nothing but brain chatter, but I think that if you capture them in writing, you can start to see paths in your thinking or dreams or ideas you’d like to see become something. The act of writing is what is important – the results will follow. That’s what I think, anyway.
Anyway, that book will get done, and I will feel satisfied about it, and so I say, thank you, Poetry Marathon.
I then took some time to do some quick poetry writing. Today it focused on what was happening around me – how I felt being in this library, doing this task, at this particular time. That’s not always true of these sessions – in some of them, my mind wanders all over. Not today. I think I felt very content in this location. Something about it was soothing.
So here is today’s poem – fresh from my thoughts.
The books the dried pages the dense air
the heater’s incessant roaring promising heat and
producing none. The thick stone walls
that hold in the chill. The windows spattered
with raindrops blown hard against them the leafless trees
vibrating in the wind. Somewhere outside a gutter
overflows the water slapping the stone. The granite windowsill
cold when I rest my hands on it the radiator
cold when I rest my hands on it the fluorescent bulbs
hang in fixtures without covers and every other one
seems to flicker. The filing cabinets no longer needed
miles of them lining the end walls on each floor a scrap metal
bonanza the shelves a darkened turquoise a color no one can replicate
today full of books exactly what a library should be
full of books and the rest of it irrelevant
as long as I can get at those books.
I love libraries. All kinds. All the time.