late again

Birmingham library exterior with owl (owl parade)

I had already written yesterday’s post – four days late for Candlemas – when I realised that it was National Libraries Day and I probably should be writing about that. Instead, I am doing so today, which is why this post is “late again”.

When I realised, it was nearly four in the afternoon, by which time I suspect most UK libraries are closed on a Saturday. (I certainly know of at least one local independent library whose Saturday opening hours are only 10 till one. I wonder how they crammed a whole day’s celebration into a mere three hours.)

Out of interest, I checked to see what the opening hours of my local library were and was surprised – and impressed – to find that it’s open until 17:30 most weekdays.

I was even more intrigued, though, to find that, on weekdays, library services are available by phone until much later:

library opening times
I think of the main purpose of libraries as lending books, which rather suggests you actually need to be there. So what exactly are those “library services” that can be provided over the phone?

Thinking about it, I wonder if, when I can’t go and borrow a book because the library is shut, I could ask them to read to me over the phone. If so, given that the services are available till 8pm, I could almost arrange for a bedtime story each night.

And that brings me round to a poem that’s so old I don’t actually have a copy on my computer: I’ve had to go search online to find the draft I posted to a forum for comment and critique way back in 2001.

There should be a later revision somewhere, but this will do, I think.


The boy king sits astride a rafter in the hayloft;
ignoring splinters, he shins along rough wood to reach
the open hatch. Here he commands
a view of his whole checker-board dominion.

The rope swings and the pulley creaks
its one-note song. Below,
he sees red minotaurs rip the ears
from corn. They snort and puff. The sun
glints on their sickle horns
as they pour golden treasure
into drum bellies and sneeze
the chaff away unthinkingly. Are these
Rapunzel’s golden locks cut short?
Will Rumplestiltskin tread
the straw paths in the dusk
of this discarded summer? Who will weave
the corn maid for the sacrifice?

He revels in old wisdom handed down,
unwritten, with the land. In the yard
a black cat’s shadow pours
itself along the wall. The beasts have left
the trampled field; on they roll, leaving
destruction in their wake. From the kitchen comes
the welcome smell of bread and there will be
stories before bedtime.

(I should probably say that it was based on a ‘fixer-upper’ poem posted to the workshop forum by Mikel Potts, and a few of the phrases were unashamedly stolen.)

Back to libraries, for those wondering, the photo with the owl at the start of the post is the Central Library in Birmingham, not my local library. And just to wrap things up, this is a view of the escalator/inside stairwell, which somehow reminds me of a möbius strip.

Birmingham Central Library interior

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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