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The Ambrosiana Library

The Ambrosiana Library

On its onyx shelves: every book you've ever read,
and the tone you felt, which pierced you,
when you did. Even those
you've forgotten
you've read. It offers all the books you want to read,
and all the books you don't know you want to read because you've never
read about them in your reading. It holds, also,
those as yet unwritten. The Ambrosiana Library
is comprehensive: every book ever written on monkeys, a mile or two, all
told, of shelves. Also: every truthful book ever written
by the monkeys' cousins, some several yards of these
on special shelves, more like cradles, or thrones.
Every book on joy: TAL's got it!
Every book on bananas!
The Ambrosiana Library
has long, deep-polished oak tables, green lampshades,
cream-cushioned chairs
(with, for anyone planning to read
more than three hours, magic fingers), leather armrests (for those
who read with chin in hands),
magazines in 11,00 languages,
every obscure, passionate poetry journal,
every book on everything we don't want to know
but should. The lights hanging
from oak beams above the readers
light and illuminate every page. Each book dusted
each day. Original jackets, no odious numbers glued to spines,
not one decimal, Dewey or otherwise, in the entire place!
Each reader is assigned
his or her personal librarian,
and each librarian is paid twice the average income
of orthropedic surgeons
and gets free orthropedic surgery
for any Ambrosia-related (shelving
or unshelving) injury.
Mornings, whole afternoons,
citizens sit and read themselves into another
world - from which they will
return. When it's time for lunch, or to close, a tiny bell
is wrung which only humans,
not dogs, can hear. And, and at the door as you leave
is a character you loved - fictional, historical, half
of each - from whatever book you're reading now
or from any book read
previously. This character (never
the writer of the book, though there are slips
of paper with the words thank you
on them released monthly
to the wind from a skylight
in the library's attic), this character
stands by the door to say goodbye, come again: tip of his hat,
a smile from her.
No books ever leave Ambrosiana.
It's a library you enter like a book,
and when you leave
the book leaves inside you.
                                                        - Thomas Lux

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