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By Lydia Lowe. Posted July 3, 2022.
In the beginning was
the word that the Tyler Street
branch was coming down,
while all around the kids
who played hide-and-seek on the street,
amidst goblins and fairies from borrowed books,
were speechless with loss.
Then the bookmobile rolled in,
here and gone like the tinkling
of the ice cream truck on a summer day.
Sometimes they made their way
to Copley Square, where all around
old friends they’d found before
waited to be checked out
and renewed again and again.
But afternoons soon filled with homework
from school and home work with mom,
poking the sewn fabric out with a wooden chopstick
–more tickets, more pieces per hour.
So, in a drawer, the library cards now lay
buried under curling pages of S&H Green Stamps.
Later, their own children cried
for one more story, just one more,
and, recalling their days in the stacks,
they tried to go back on weekends
with the kids in tow,
but running out to Copley Square
was easier said than done.
And soon their children
and the children’s children
no longer knew the thrill
of a finger run along the spines,
the catalog of yellowed cards in Dewey decimals,
the hush of hallowed haunts and whispered rhymes.
But one day the young
borrowed and renewed the elders’ dream,
passing it from teen to teen and screen to screen,
until the hope was in our throats
the words were on our lips again—
a library for Chinatown renewed!—
by Lydia Lowe. This poem was written to celebrate the return of library services to Boston Chinatown, more than 60 years after the library was razed during Urban Renewal.