“The Helper in the Capitol Hill Library” by Tricia Knoll, published in Keeping it Weird – Stories & Poems of Portland, Oregon, released on Oct 30, 2014 by The Poetry Box
The Helper in the Capitol Hill Library
His thin back is bent. He’s balding.
What little hair he has frizzles.
He often wears a long gray cardigan.
He is not in charge here.
Recent automations do not prevent him from pushing carts,
swiping undisciplined cards in red lasers, pointing north
for read-to-me DVDs, south for mysteries, east for poetry,
west for picture books. The New York Times Book Review
stands behind his desk with Kindles.
Before Christmas I searched for a book on haiku
enlightenment, out of print, not in our catalog system,
more than seventy dollars on E-Bay for 175 leafy pages. He
led me through a sequence of screens. A national search.
I got an email alert after New Years. Come pick up a book
at my neighborhood library, just past Walgreens,
up hill from the middle school, past the mosque.
It’s the 12th day of Christmas.
He turns to the inter-library loan shelf.
Distance: 2,426 miles from
Ohio Wesleyan University. No charge.
His eyebrows meet in the middle. He gets it,
how happy I am. Some other one,
the history librarian at Wesleyan,
donated this book to their shelves.
Librarians as elf.
the wind turns over
old leaves on the driveway
my path to the fig tree