Second Entry: Interactions at the National Library

Compiling research for one of many papers at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, I was inspired by a very simple interaction between one of the other patrons and myself.

 

Foreign

Curious,

turning the pages of observation,

that perfect strangers put their trust

in one another

for a sense of comfort

among “the others.”

 

Pouvez-vous surveiller mes affaires?

Or something like that,

And I’m obliged, a stranger myself,

yet appointed more:

I’m a guardian now, a keeper of pages,

of circuitry, pencils, and cords,

bound by a trust in―

 

What, exactly?

A trust in me? That I, a student

(presumably ― like you?)

am bound to the mutual investment

of this particular corner of the library

and the unspoken oath to defend this property,

this peace?

 

The same peace, perhaps, on the quiet lips

below scores of other studious eyes?

 

Yet the answer that slips unassumingly through mine,

Oui, pas de soucis,

is somehow closer, somehow more reliable

than “the others’?”

 

A trust in me, then,

or a mistrust of them?

A trust that they can’t be presumed

to be like me, to be like you,

that their purpose between book shelves

is somehow less than ours―

different?

Threatening?

 

But it’s me―

and I am any one of them, really―

watching your laptop sit placidly

on our table.

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