POEM: Bookshelves

Bookshelves

All our bookshelves were made by our fathers,
crafted by calloused hands from woods
soft or hard, fine-grained or no,
fashioned in damp basements or dusty barns
on Saturday afternoons while Black Magic Woman
or Love Me Do played on what used to be the nice radio.
The bookshelves are, like all fathers’ creations, imperfect,
slightly wider at the front,
fitting some books better than others.
In one, there is a pair of hearts carved,
delicate filigree surprising
from a splitter of logs, a man of the earth.
The bookshelves are a framework, intended
by our fathers to be filled with thoughts
of our own choosing, maybe with a gentle nudge
from a “doctor of books.”
But it is we who must encumber the wood
with our own words, we who must choose
which volumes to stack or lean,
we who receive the hard or soft legacy
cast in simple wood by complex men.

Lights out, everybody!

Last night, Jen and the boys and I went to see some percussion ensembles from the Albany Youth Symphony Orchestra. The concert was at the Massry Center for the Arts at the College of St. Rose. The Massry Center is a brand new performance and rehearsal building with state-of-the-art facilities.

Unfortunately, it also has one major design flaw. The light switches that control every light in the auditorium are located about three feet up on the wall outside the auditorium, and the switches blink.

How do I know this? Because while the theater was filling up and the final ensemble was finishing its rehearsal, my two-year-old son, John, saw the pretty blinking light and pressed all the switches, turning off every light in the auditorium. Some people started leaving. My wife overheard one patron say, “They must not want us in there now.”

I saw what John had done and turned the lights back on. The rehearsal finished, and the rest of the show went off without a hitch. But some architect ought to be giving the college a refund for that part of the design. Or they should have a “no two-year-old boys” policy.