Men at the Library
The youngest men at the library make war
with unknown adversaries all across the planet.
Behind cubicle walls they flex the iron thews
of their imaginations, making mutton of all comers.
The next cadre came a-jog with high-tech strollers,
to nursemaid towheads promised a good story.
Sitting cross-legged on the carpet, they murmur
baritone replies to a steady stream of soprano inquiry.
Then there are the unemployed, who email
resumes like candle lanterns set afloat, and
the discontented, who grind their many axes
with reluctant pen pals in elected office.
Older men relax behind the paper, happy
to be out of the house, for whatever reason,
and despite the fact that the very same paper
was on their doorstep as they went out.
Saturday in the library, one can be undisturbed
among company, a particular masculine pleasure,
like holding court, but without the nuisance
of issuing orders or hearing pleas for judgment.
A few are like me–bookish men–basking
in the convivial presence of their peers
(as represented by the long rows of volumes)
who spent their lifetimes scratching at the page.
In time, I may be among the eldest, who nod
in the best chairs, absorbing obscure tomes
(apparently by mental telepathy), whose friends
are long buried, whose labor is no longer required.
Even dull company is company, I suppose,
when days go on and on like Tolstoy translations.
Somewhere back among these stacks, no doubt,
is a book–cogent but neglected–upon this very topic.
September 3, 2011