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Public Library
Allie Nava

You walked down cracked pavements, past broken window shops, past the pizza shop of that murder, ten blocks, twenty blocks, unguarded, shoelaces untied, until you reached your public library.

 

I biked over knolls, past empty pastures, past uninitiated neighbors, past puppies in backyards, across traffic lights, past the Sheetz ice cream until I reached my library.

 

You sat alone, with your notebooks and pencils, your rulers and compass, your backpack full of books, inside your substitute for momma, stuck on her bus on her long commute home.

 

I sat alone, with Nancy and Ramona and Margaret and the company of books, my substitute for boredom, stretched wide across yawning fields, home to lazy baseball days.

 

And your librarian wiped sweat off her brow every morning as she swerved to avoid the gangs of kids that blocked her path from the bus to the library doors.

 

While my librarian hummed gentle tunes, sweeping the entryway to clear the leaves for the piles of kids who would accompany their parents each afternoon.

 

So you never came back to your peeling, egg-washed stucco, brown-stained, sticky page-filled hidden building with smoky corners that housed torn secondhand books.

 

While I cried for you because I yearned for past storytimes and crafts with the other kids, and gold star stickered summer book-a-thon lists, and the wonder and curiosity that sat behind unopened books.

Allie focuses on hidden and unconventional stories. Her fiction is published in Six Sentences and 365tomorrows, and she serves on the board of Bellevue Literary Review.

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