Volume 1 Number 4


Autumn 2003

Ex Libris

Elizabeth Barrette

Finals week – the library stands open
Around the clock. She takes all the overtime
She can get and steers the hapless students
To their fate. Overhead, a balsam moon
Lights her way to bed before the sun
Quite crests the east behind it.

The hours of the night are hers, Athena’s
Adopted daughter, who keeps the wisdom
Of ages in her well-appointed lair. Come
Sunday, one owl-eyed youngster fumbles
His question in front of her, notes for a paper
Tumbling onto the circulation desk.

Due Monday, she reads, and under that
His scrawled title, The Vampire in Literature.
She guesses this may get him a C. Then
He asks her where he can find vampires.
She revises her estimate down a notch
And directs him to the appropriate shelf.

“Books can tell you a lot, young man,”
She warns him before she leaves, “but
You won’t find everything in them.”
He gives her a nervous smile. “I’m sure
I’ll find enough,” he assures her. “I only
Need ten pages for the paper.”

An hour before her shift ends, she slips
Down into the stacks and finds him sleeping
On a stack of books. Yet the half-finished essay
Under his hand shows glimmers of brilliance.
It is for this reason that she tips his head back
And sips delicately from his slender throat.

The feeding leaves him with potent dreams,
Enough to earn him an A if he can weave them
Into his paper before the class begins. He might
Wake up in time. Then again, he might not.
It is not the librarian’s concern. She forgets him
By the time Aurora, the dawn, sings her to sleep.

Illustration by Amanda Burkinshaw