October 5, 2007

Speechless At The Library

Books, 2006.

Earlier in the week, I had jaunted up the street one block to our brand new library and applied to be a volunteer. I did take a moment to explain that I would be gone, on occasion, during the baseball season. The lady I talked to said they were holding volunteer positions open for students who were just now settling into their schedules, and they had five volunteers now. They would call me.

She said more, but my brain went blank at the thought of this destitute institution not needing volunteers. City library funding keeps getting cut and cut and cut, and they didn’t need anyone to help shelve books?

I came home and whipped out a poem.

Yesterday I took the poem to my poetry group, read it with a certain satisfaction because one of the real poets is a retired librarian who works there, then went to the beach library to see if they needed a volunteer.

“I want to volunteer,” I said. Keeping in mind my previous experience, “Do I have to be a member of the “Friends of the Library” to volunteer?” And too, I mentioned my previous experience with libraries. I’d forgotten to do that at the other library.

The nearest real city employee, badge and all, looked up and said with a smile, “Oh, goodie!”

With a whirl of commotion, a catty cornered copy of the volunteer form was produced, with a bit of chaos I managed to explain that I had shelved in the past while the young librarian, now called branch manager, looked at me oddly when I explained where I worked. It appears he goes to Padres games. He remembered me.
”It’s perfect timing as one of our volunteers has taken a leave of absence,” he said leading me to the mountains of DVD’s in need of shelving. “Can you come in Monday at 11:30 and shelve DVD’s? Perhaps you can come in Thursday and help with the sale books?”

At 7:30, I was home after an evening of busyness, tucked into my pj’s and sitting in front of my computer when the phone rang. A kind lady asked if I would like to come to work at the Top of the Hill Branch. No, I already had a job, I told them, down the hill at the other, messy, overcrowded library. But thank you for calling I replied.

“We didn’t really need you…” at our brand new, dust free, flawless, upper crust, top of the hill library, she said.

I admit I was slightly overdressed to apply at the OB library, but you know, I think I found a job that was fitted for me in heaven.

Speechless at the Library

We already have five
I’ll call you,
reduces me to a silence
of the dithering kind
followed by
an instantaneous lack of understanding
my eyes watch
her mouth moving
speaking unheard words
into the blankness of my confusions.

Never before have I not
been immediately grabbed,
put to work scrubbing pots
sorting things
recording things
moving strings of papers and boxes
items of historical importance that escape me now but were important then
copying things ad nauseam
picking lunch from shelves of donations
for the homeless
dodging senators and cameras
and other irritations while working on my 15 minutes
building billboards or flyers
digging ditches
writing invitations for those wine and cheese things
that never pulled in the constituents
schlepping mountains of fabrics or
sewing machines, notions, and other
serious stuff
in my trusty old truck.

This time I had just wanted to shelve a book
perhaps from point A to point B
sort a bit of this or that from C to D
I’d been told I’d be needed
wanted even
by cognoscenti
how strange then to be left standing
in an age where there is no money
and library’s funds are cut at every corner
to find myself
an unwanted volunteer.

Me: Walked….in two stages, printed poem, dressed fractionally better than usual, took mother’s earrings to be cleaned, wandered stores looking for shelves for G’s baseball collection, lunch, stopped in to beach library to use bathroom…..IBS in action, talk, home dinner here with Ba, visit Duck.

G: Worked hard. Coming down with something and all plugged up. Dosed with everything including Airborne.

Duck: After a trip out of the nursing home, he seems to lose himself completely. He was very confused yesterday. He was frightened thinking he would be moved to a different place on Saturday….and he “knew” all his stuff was in his apartment across the street. We stayed talking with him for quite a while. Calming him. In the future, if we can minimize trips outside the home, it would be good. It's so very sad to see this happen. Over and over sadness.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I think I'd feel much more comfortable shelving in the last library you talk about. There's something vaguely discontenting about the whole experience, and the poem brings it out quite well. How'd you get so good with words?


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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...