Barely the size of a mom-and-pop store,
the façade was a stately assertion
that learning is made of serious stuff,
the scent of importance, reverence, rank,
confirmed by each stamp on the yellow card.
Inside were shelves offering the Bobsey Twins
and later, a series of Nancy Drew
along with the history of Marco Polo.
Here, the librarian offered sweetness and smiles
to counter the grimness of immigrant life
for a child too frightened to trust.
In books were boys who played with balls
and romped with their puppies;
girls wearing pink pajamas at the end of the day
along with words like “fairness” and “friendship”
that went beyond “go” and “come here.”
Then, if someone happened to have a brother
who knew of such things,
there were wonderful talks going home
and bonding that lasted forever.