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Lost in the library
This poem was written and recorded live for the CBC Radio event Chapter & Verse, at the National Library of Canada in 2004. The theme we were given to write on was “Lost in the library”. Here’s what I came up with….
I was beginning to wonder
why you were never coming home
it was dinner time again,
and I found myself alone
so I called you on your phone
when you answered you whispered,
â€œjust a sec, Iâ€™ve gotta step outsideâ€
and I started to wonder
what it was you had to hide
you said, â€œsorry baby,
Iâ€™m just on my way,
I got a call from my friend earlier today
and she told me my books were in,
so I had to stop by
you know how i can get lost in this place –
but everythingâ€™s fine, Iâ€™ll be home in no timeâ€
well, I know frequenting the library
canâ€™t be called a crime
(not when youâ€™re expanding your mind
in this exemplary fashion, informing yourself,
taking inspiration from every shelf)
but itâ€™s making me feel selfish
for wanting you home —
itâ€™s really not about the hours that Iâ€™m spending alone,
itâ€™s about the fact that the phoneâ€™s always ringing,
and itâ€™s always for you, and itâ€™s always the same person youâ€™re talking to.
You never say much, she does most of the talking
And you just stand gawking. Then you hang up,
with shortness of breath,
â€œbye!â€ You say, leaving the kitchen all in a mess,
â€œIâ€™m off to the library, Iâ€™ll be back soon…â€
â€œBut honey,â€ I say, â€œthereâ€™s no more room
on the shelves for more library books,
theyâ€™re all over flowing, soâ€™s every cranny and nook,
and youâ€™ve got fines outstandingâ€¦â€
but youâ€™re not listening, youâ€™re gone
I watch you sprint across the lawn…
and this is when I begin to suspect
But when I ask you whatâ€™s going on, you deny anythingâ€™s there.
When I ask where youâ€™ve been
all these evenings you say
â€œBabe, itâ€™s okay! Iâ€™ve been lost in the library,
Iâ€™ve been looking at books.â€
â€œReallyâ€, I say, and I give you a look.
â€œYesâ€, you say, â€œreally! you have nothing to fearâ€
â€œBut your friend has been callingâ€, I say, â€œand sheâ€™s weird!
She really should learn a more pleasant phone manner.
For godâ€™s sake, her voice sounds like a jack hammer,
no inflection or pause, no matter what I say,
itâ€™s as if sheâ€™d like to keeping talking all day,
listing all the books which are on hold for you
at the libraryâ€¦â€ and as if on cue, the phone rings again
â€œDonâ€™t answer!â€ I say.
â€œBut I have to see what else has come in today!
it could be Ondaatji, Humphries or Lane,
I donâ€™t even remember, my list is insane!â€
â€œOkaâ€, I say, â€œbut your â€œfriendâ€ doesnâ€™t even seem to know your whole name,
She just says your initials, like itâ€™s some kind of game.â€
â€œRelaxâ€ you say,
and you pick up the phone.
You listen intently,; then I hear you moan
and before I know it, youâ€™re gone.
I hate to admit it, but I took to spying.
Well, I was convinced that you must be lying.
I hid behind a newspaper, near the magazine racks,
watching you ransack the shelves with feverish glee,
you were lost in new fiction,
you didnâ€™t see me.
Where was this vixin? This voice on the phone,
this Library Lucy whoâ€™s making my baby moan?
But you never spoke to anyone, never gave anyone a glace,
like hard covers novels were your only romance.
So I returned home,
the phone rang, and who else
would it be but old Automated Mary,
your so-called friend, the loser at the library.
In desperation, I call you on your cell,
you whisper â€œhello?â€ And I say,
â€œWhat the hell — Iâ€™m begging you baby, please just come home.
And while youâ€™re at it, can you tell your friend not to phone?
Come home for dinner, and give your lust a rest,
in the library
I get lost on your list
which is grasped in your fist,
like the money for your fine,â€
I sayâ€baby, stop reading for a moment,
and say youâ€™ll be mine.â€
Â© evalyn parry 2004 all rights reserved