Tunneling in the Library

The storm outside flails and bangs,
but in here it's the crackle of ink drying
that unnerves. I inch along the dark line
so as not to lose my place, feeling
the writing hand drift on the other side
of the page, tapping a record
of what has not changed, in far-off
echoes: the quarreling lovers, duelers, spinners.

I move faster, shivering, but dry,
listening to plinks and turning the pages faster,
suspecting the rain has moved inside.
I think I spot the drops, but they turn into a thin
man with long silver hair who ducks behind shelves.
Tall until I walk toward him, he scurries
and I see the stacks are six inches high.
He looks at me each time as he dodges
away. Penning notes and tucking them into books,
he vanishes by standing stalagmite-still.

Losing all sense of words as time,
I feel encircling water rise. So many dripping
phantasms rise in the late day, so I grab
hold of a serif's tail and lurch into their stampede,
plunging off the narrowing vowel-trail
jostling with adjectives that pulp themselves
together as we all fall, scrambling
roadrunner-styler. Yielding to habit
in last moments, I pluck from a passing shelf
the silver man's note for a last read.

Rachel Dacus

Rachel Dacus (
rachel@dacushome.com) is at work on a poem about a San Francisco bookstore that arranged all its books by color, and she wishes her local library would follow suit. Her website is http://www.dacushome.com.