At nineteen years of age, he said to a girl,
I have two lodestars, libraries and love.
Love? .. well, girls and dances anyway.
Vacation weekdays now, he’d go to the library.
He knew and could define the word “repository”
so yes .. his town’s repository of knowledge.
They’d all of Steinbeck there, and Joyce
and Keats, John Clare and politics and art.
Saturdays, the dances and the thrill of sound,
as rock’n’roll was shading into Beatles,
and he started taking Clara home. They’d stop
at their bench behind the Parade and now
his hands would mooch just wheresoever
they were allowed to go.
The rest of the walk, to her parents’ house
on Merlin’s Hill, went past the library. And there
was his friend the storehouse of learning,
quiet and unperturbed the weekend through.
Some nights, flushed with the evening’s warmth,
he’d cast a wink at the library. See you Monday, pal.
And when the firework friendship fizzled out,
and through years and decades on, the library stood
through weekends, wars and noise and fluster,
its knowledge there and in repose.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has been published widely in Britain and the USA, where he has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.