Why I became a librarian
‘You see, I don’t believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, and that has been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.’
‘Gorilla Librarians’ Monty Python
Magnified on the high blank wall behind
the escalator a young man reads and grins
turns his face towards the Information desk.
I see his shoulders lift and settle back.
One hand sweeps back a lock of hair.
Once more he looks at us and grins.
Are we gorillas then? I wish
in my black uniform I was
and could swing up the escalator after him
proffering the book I feel he should read:
Thoughts of Primates about Humans, or
Our Animal Natures, perhaps, where literature goes
to hold in thrall and satisfy. We need
more panthers as librarians. Or lions
forgiving fines with tossing manes, giraffes
to reach down the highest books, a monkey
screeching at a joke in it. Why did
I become a librarian if it wasn’t
to hide myself in a gorilla suit, to pick
at facts like animals picking dandruff-
like salt from one another’s fur
and to go on – this is one profession that
never leaves the animal nature alone –
picking and delving through the days until
the silent communion of after-hours’ tomes
falls at our feet like autumn leaves
and when the stars and moon come out
the library joins in their hum in unison.