I remember this library as hidden
in trees, perched on the hillside,
pierced by birdsong.
I looked out from the second floor
to see the oak trees, not the cars
parked up and down Atlantic Street
or the woman my age
pushing her cart of stale bread,
hamburger meat, and limp greens
home from the bus stop.
I think about Bellevue Library
in these days of quarantine.
Some patrons have
become ghosts waiting
at Metro’s closed stations
for the trains that no one
living rides anymore.
I think about the women
I wrote with when we were birds
perched on the hillside, singing.
But this time
I’ll see the woman my age
pushing her cart of fresh greens
and pineapple to juice.
She is walking home past
the library, her library,
not yet open these days
Imagine That You Are Walking
After T-Square, 2020, by Tara Hayes
Lines drawn onto the wash of color
could be walls, steps, billboards, tiles.
The design in the corner could be
a Chinese character or graffiti.
You could be walking the corridor
to the Orange or Red Line.
Except for the fierce blue.
No ceiling in public
could be that pure.
You are outside.
If there are trees, they are part
of the wash of color,
some green, some brown.
This may be winter,
before you stayed indoors,
sketching on napkins from cafes
that may never open again
or from the place on Centre,
the Chinese takeout that still delivers.
It may be spring, a scene
glimpsed from a window
while drinking homemade coffee
and reading the obituaries online.
This may be fall or next summer,
the future when you can walk
outside without a mask,
brush past people you do not know,
sit inside a café, take a bus
to see a movie, even
leave this city.
Look long enough
and benches emerge
just as flowers and bushes,
stained glass windows
and the last wooden gingerbread
emerge when you are walking.
Even in your imagination,
you don’t sit down.
Marianne Szlyk is a professor at Montgomery College. Her poems have appeared in of/with, bird’s thumb, Setu, Verse-Virtual, Solidago, Bourgeon, Muddy River Poetry Review, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and the Loch Raven Review as well as a few anthologies. Her books On the Other Side of the Window and Poetry en Plein Air are available from Amazon. She has revived her blog-zine The Song Is… as a summer-only publication: http://thesongis.blogspot.com. She and her husband the wry poet Ethan Goffman lead It Takes a Community, a poetry group that is now flourishing on Zoom.
Image: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=220717