A tough-looking crew has flattened the library annex, the newer part where we used to meet for coffee and lectures and political events. Bricks lie scattered in the parking lot, some intact enough to reuse. You want me to gather a wheelbarrow load for your garden, but the crew looks too mean to share. Machinery grinds in the background. A pump sprays a heavy mist to keep the dust down. I guess they removed the books before the bulldozers arrived. I don’t see any lying in the rubble. Do you remember those sorry volumes? They were mostly sad old prose, the sort of stuff we speak without knowing that it’s prose, or even aware that it’s speech. Not a lick of verse except maybe a tattered old Shakespeare no one has browsed in decades. The new library, a couple of years in the future, makes no promises. It may or may not be prosaic enough to communicate with us. It may be bolder and more versified than Shakespeare, or it may be plain-spoken as Harry Truman. It may eschew printed text altogether. I peer through the chain-link fence and admire the determination of the men wrestling their implements. If I were younger, I’d want to join them. Not only to procure your bricks, but to sniff out the last tatters of text. Maybe parsing those clues would render me prosaic enough to please you.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals. Web site at williamdoreski.blogspot.com.