Their shelves have always held mystery. Resist the urge to touch —
cloth and paper and paint. I am close enough to breathe in Catullus
and all his earthly urges, now sealed and almost erudite;
So many spines here, leather and lust, dirt and distress.
From Alexandria to al-Qarawiyyin, from papyrus to pixels —
Where knowledge is gathered, the people draw power.
The librarian knows the sigils and secrets,
Knows the liturgy and the locations
Reveals the way and the wonder
In Toledo, the ancient stones whisper to me of scribes,
And ink smudges, of late nights and lovers in the arcades.
The church conjures monks and marginalia,
While Borges and Calvino and Eco huddle
Whispering to each other in a corner
Every library, it seems, hides a portal to another,
Where you can lose yourself, transported through time,
From scrolls to chained boards to the quiet hum of screens
Echoes of volumes and history, of algebra and philosophy,
Hypatia and Fatima El-Fihriya, scholars and revolutionaries.
It is no surprise that they demand silence like other holy shrines.