At the station holiday party last night at the Sauter family home, the usual good food and good time was tempered for me by thoughts of the big changes underway for NCPR. Among the brand-new faces of new hires and plus-ones were lots of older faces, including mine, and some station retirees who demonstrate that there actually is a life beyond our daily labors.
In a few years it will be a different station, which is as it should be. But it got me thinking past that not-too-distant day when I will join the ranks of the formerly employed. And it brought to mind this poem from a few years ago, when being a library trustee put me in a good position to observe the denizens of a certain Saturday.
Men at the Library
The youngest man at the library makes war
with unknown adversaries across the planet.
Behind the cubicle wall he flexes iron thews
of his imagination, making mutton of all comers.
The next came a-jog behind a double-wide stroller,
to nursemaid towheads promised a good story.
Sitting cross-legged on the carpet, he murmurs
baritone replies to a steady stream of soprano inquiry.
There is the unemployed man, who emails
resumes like candle lanterns set afloat, and
the discontented man, who grinds his many axes
with reluctant pen pals in elected office.
An older man relaxes behind the paper, happy
to be out of the house, for whatever reason,
and despite the fact that the very same paper
was on his own doorstep when he went out.
Saturday in the library, one can be undisturbed
among company, a particular masculine pleasure –
like holding court, but without the nuisance
of issuing orders or hearing pleas for judgment.
Then there is me – a bookish man – basking
in the convivial presence of my peers
(as represented by the long rows of volumes)
who spent their lifetimes scratching at the page.
In time I may become like the eldest, who nods
in the best chair, absorbing an obscure tome
(through mental telepathy, apparently)
whose friends have flown, whose labors are done.