Quiet in the Library

I try to stay quiet in the library. When the urge to talk gathers inside me I think of neighboring prime numbers. I try to imagine even prime numbers. I know this is an insensuous thought but it keeps me warm when they won’t turn down the air.

The air is one of the reasons I’m tempted to talk in the library. It blows from a diagonal vent and makes the note C# or D depending on the season. I ask them to retune the ducts, or call in an expert, but I’m told no talking in the library, please.

Once a man raised up from a table and said in a voice the way you would pull a head from a glass of water, We are either watching the death of our democracy or the death of one of its two parties. There is no third option and anyone who can’t see that is bewitched by exceptionalism. The librarian stood to punish him, but reconsidered on the merit of what he’d said. I read into the events of the week but found nothing I could safely yell.

I did yell once. And I am not proud of it. What is said at a yell becomes a joke on you. But a ringtail cat escaped a toneless duct and hid beneath my table. I leapt to my feet and yelled the last sentence I had read, since it seemed impertinent to yell OH or WHAT or HERE. Fair point though: I started a project once to find the first literary sentence to repeat itself in the library’s collection of books. She buried the dynasty at shoulder height, was it. It took me seven years to find. I never spoke. 

And that’s the hardest part: the architects built a long window to track the moon. Everything moves between the earth. When the moon appears in daytime I flip pages backwards and needlessly borrow pens. Once I was in the basement researching the origin of the corner when I heard the moon come out. I went to the atrium stairs and called MOON, what else, and someone from the top floor called back two prime numbers that rhymed with my name.