Fridays behind the library the librarians gather
With lists of all the books unread that week
To check against previous weeks and months
And burn those read even once in the past year.
Saturdays, they don armour of boiled leather,
Check for gaps between gauntlet and sleeve,
Ankle guard and greave, layer cheesecloth
Wrappings over mouth and nose and ears.
They move in squadrons through the silence
Scouring the stacks, edging into corners,
Rolling under desks topped by upturned chairs
With nets and bags scaring up stray thoughts
Separated from their owners by the rattling
Turns of newspaper pages and the smoky
Coughs of homeless sheltering from cold
Or rain or the livid midsummer midday sun.
Most of these thoughts will fill yellowing
Pages of books that jumble the scarred tables
And broken boxes of the annual library sale—
The remainder to be sold in bulk to poets.