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.

Featured Image:

Opening of Boston Chinatown Library. Photo courtesy of Chinatown Community Land Trust.

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