Back Aisles

By Ashley Hutson

February 1, 2016

Back Aisles

The library building was my body like your children are your body, like your spouse is your body. Its wood and glass grew out of my chest. It came with a key and code.

I worked there. It was a rural branch, full of hidden nooks and enclaves. The farthest corner housed the health and food sections. In a mammal, these shelves would be the heart that drives circulation.

The corner was also a place of confession. Here, a man casually told me he had kidney cancer. A woman wept while revealing her son's autism diagnosis. Teenagers exchanged kisses of clandestine devotion, unaware of Alton Brown's kitchen chemistry near their shoulders.

One rainy day, while the building creaked and glowed cozy, I lingered in that corner. It reminded me of a faith I'd abandoned long ago. So many secrets shared in these aisles, so I shared one of my own: I desire to die, library. Keep me alive. The air vent hummed low and quiet as a womb.

When I visit that library now, I am a stranger. But I still seek out the farthest corner. I still listen to the air vent kick on, and the feeling is the same as when I was 10, as when I was 19, as when I was 30. Look at all I have to show you, the building says. Look at all there is yet to see. Somewhere there is a key, a code. The wood and glass bloom like hope.


Photo "Inside the Library of Birmingham - Level LG" by Elliot Brown, provided by Flickr's Creative Commons license. 

Keywords: library
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