HIS FAVORITE PATRON
HIS FAVORITE PATRON
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub
She came every morning a half hour after opening, her punctuality
breathtakingly reliable if only we took the time to admire.
Only there were materials piled high, particularly from
prolific, bearded men in black and white, calling our attention.
And queries from those hunting for traces of antecedents,
desperate for evidence, any scrap anywhere
of the couple photographed so long ago in front
of the painted backdrop of French doors and silk portieres.
The squeak of her shopping cart wheels heralded her arrival.
A halo of body-unwashed-for-weeks odor shone all around.
Her hair hung down in limp strands,
often covered by a wool hat even in heat.
Her body was wrapped in rags and bags and blankets and coats
of indeterminate hue so caked in matter were they. Even in penning
this ode, it is impossible to sanitize the physicality of the filth.
There was a monumentality in her entrance. That had to be granted.
She set up station at the same spot by a long wooden table,
retrieved an encyclopedia volume from the shelf and fell, smiling,
into a sleep at once profound and buoyant.
How he marveled at that sleep, he who tossed and thrashed
and stared slack-jawed at infomercials late into night.
What was the secret of her successful rest,
she who surely traversed the city, in storm and sun,
in search of the means of survival, he wondered.
Perhaps it was the fact of her body on this chair in the biblio-light.
Hours and positions may be subject to budget nips and tucks,
but the institution would stay. Did she know this,
did this provide serenity from the chaos of the outside.
Or perhaps there was no chaos outside at all, perhaps there
was simply a path, a creativity sculpted from budgetlessness,
honed these many years. And yet why here?
He never asked her any of these questions. He only knew this:
of all the rooms in this marble palace of knowledge,
resplendent with hand-painted angels and roses,
constructed to dazzle in an era when learning was venerated,
she came to this one, to the one devoted to the writings
of a tiny nation hounded over the millennia, whose citizens
were happiest apparently with book in hand and plume on hand.
Of all the rooms, she came to ours.
We gave her shelter. Here she found home.
©2012 This work is the property of the author.