About twenty years ago, I wrote a story about an old woman who died in a library. Had I taken this approach, maybe it wouldn’t have been rejected so many times — not that this piece is necessarily any better, but one never knows. Of course, twenty years ago this approach would never have occurred to me, as back then I was still struggling with occasional bouts of sanity.
In our old public library, a patron died reading in her chair. I was there. As gently as she could, the librarian removed the book from the widow’s hand, closed it, and set it on the table. Then she wrote a number on her cooling palm, nodded for my help, and together we shelved her in the reference section. She’s been there ever since. And when I hunger for the knowledge she possessed, I carefully take her down — a volume mute, but never dumb, her faded skirt and blouse, her rigid spine, her yellowed teeth and bones.
Poems, Slightly Used, November 21, 2008