Once upon a time I was a librarian.
The collection I catalogued
stood alphabetically along the back of the sofa—
Aesop's Fables, Black Beauty, The Bobsey Twins,
Call of the Wild, Five Little Peppers, Little Women,
The Wizard of Oz, Tales of the Brothers Grimm.
I presided at a card table with Junior Webster's,
clerk's supplies, and Elsie the Cow calendar.
There I printed call slips and loan cards,
kept the inventory file, collected fines
in a LaPaloma cigar box. I knew the books
cover to cover and recited summaries
to borrowers—a cousin, a neighbor girl
and my little brother—who always asked
for comic books and edged toward the kitchen
when I began my spiel. Mary Poppins
dropped in, Dr. Doolittle browsed
for animal adventures, Nancy Drew
looked for clues. I stood with Casey at the Bat,
waded ashore with Robinson Crusoe.
Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy were the sisters
I never had. Stories were my thought companions
through which I ordered the world and shelved it.
And I knew what was good for other readers.
—Jeri McCormick, Madison, WI