It could be any day, but let’s say it’s Sunday.
A little before one. The line outside the door
forms like a queue at the deli. Everyone wants in.
Everyone wants a little wisdom
(a little wireless, a little e-mail, a little chat)
Welcome to the Palace of Ideas,
the Kingdom of the Imagination
where every aisle or database
provides a fact or fancy
to tickle your own.
Oprah to Oppenheimer,
it’s all here—for free.
Antique or electronic, we make no distinction.
All we want are your questions.
None too big or too small.
Who were the Buffalo Soldiers?
What’s my password?
Why can’t anybody find Amelia Earhart?
Where are the children’s books—and Darfur?
Is the king of Thailand considered to be divine?
A nursing student worries that a man with a beard
is having a nervous breakdown
in the study room. He is kneeling, bowing toward
Mecca in the only quiet place he can find,
at least until the Boy Scouts arrive, clutching reels
of microfilm to discover what The New York Times
has to say about their birthdays.
All the GED study books are checked out,
missing, or have never been returned.
More people are waiting to use the computers
than there are computers.
The copy machine is giving away money.
It’s 1:30. Three and a half hours
till closing. A quiet man approaches.
Cancer, he whispers, I’ve just been diagnosed.
But the doctor says there’s a new drug…can you help
me find something about it?
Right this way. . .