The Library Witch
by Dan Senn

A pendulum clock
clucks, clicks, ticks,
by the fireplace
of this old
Carnegie house
built with
money ripped from the guts
of working people,
said Steinbeck…
or something like that.

Sixty years ago
I boldly
brought a book of poetry
by Emerson
to the tightly girdled
check out witch
who forced me
to read some aloud
and tell her,
an expert on Transcendentalism,
what it meant. 
I did this
and left  with the book
triumphantly.

It was easy for me
as I was already 8
and had never seen poetry
that didn’t rhyme.

Between baseball practice
and 
overdue book notices
I was an instant master
of all literature,
just like the Donald.
Once home,
I’d instantly forgot
about the book,
but not the witchy lady
who hated my guts
as people loved hating
back In 1959.

They’d won prizes for it.
Trips to Bermuda or Florida.
Even pony’s.

In 1959,
air was not allowed to move
at the library
‘cept from broken windows.
Patrons sweated,
as they deserved to,
and books aged
like brick cheese
in a stale paper motif.

Old men gathered
at  the library,
depived of  their spittoons,
to read the Daily Times,
The Milwaukee Journal,
The Sentinal,
all freely skewered
on feathers sticks
like leafy brats.

But I liked
the smell of
books unmoved,
and begged my Mother
to let me go
get more
from that witchy lady
to keep for at least a year…
and counting.

We had fines so large,
our family of six,
we moved
to Elkhart, Indiana,
changed our names,
dyed our hair
and came back
the next day.
Even so,
we still had to
sneak ‘round town,
in•cog•nito,
praying
for the library
to burn.

My Dad thought
we were crazy,
as he boasted
that
he had never read a book
in • his • life,
‘cept,
of course,
the Bible.

Well, kinda.

DS 011119
ęDan Senn 2019