Friday, 29 April 2016

Get thee to a Library!

Commissioned by Poetry on Loan, Halesowen Library,
23rd April 2016

When I discover that my library books
Are due to be, or not to be, returned,
I summon up remembrance of trips past.
How long, I wonder, can it take to put
These books back in their rightful place? Five minutes?
Then I consider every tale that might
Be found within its calm and tranquil walls,
And readjust my schedule: half-an-hour
At least is what I think I’ll need inside
This wondrous horde of books which do beguile
The world; this library in fair Halesowen!
For seven days a week, I’ll find it opens
Upon the hours and times of my desire:
From nine till seven, mainly; ten till two
On Sundays; Saturdays, they close at five.
   I’m greeted by the smiling face of Tom,
A library assistant who is most
Forthcoming with his help – like all the staff!
The books are given back, and thus I can
Return in happy mood to scan the shelves
Once more, and quite forget the time, as I
Ensconce myself beside a much read bookcase.
A tower of several tomes accrues. Although
The library lets me take out twenty,
I stop at six. My watch persuades me that
I ought to make some tracks, and off I go.
   At other times, I take my kids to do
Their homework in the Children’s area,
Where I have seen their hungry minds at work
As they research their projects on computers,
Reserved each day from three till five. When they
Were younger, time was in abundance, mornings
Could last forever and the sanest thing
To do was take them to the library
For Rattle and Rhyme or Story and Rhyme;
And on the weekend, two full hours of Craft,
For there is more to this fine place than books,
You know! What’s new to learn? What’s new to find?
Three reading groups for adults, and a Book
Club too; a monthly local History Talk;
Assistance for the digitally confused
(Alas, ‘tis true, I’m in their ranks); a group
For all creative writers (true, I’m in
Their ranks as well); a room for hire; they even
Have a Japan Club! (Once a month, teenagers.)
   And in this age of fiscal frailties,
What’s there to have that’s free for us to use?
This library, of course! This monument
To wisdom and community; this place
Where we can share and grow and learn and live.
O, great Halesowen, that has such wonders in it!

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