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.
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―
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,
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―
But it’s me―
and I am any one of them, really―
watching your laptop sit placidly
on our table.