The Curious Place

This is the third place for these books
I have known in this town,
where all are welcome, all are invited in
to explore, to savor
what the world can offer —
All I have to do is come here
and roam.

Quiet on their shelves, letting me discover
the worlds they offer all
who come here;
in the quiet
the embrace of what others have said
about the world, and about life.

Welcome, they murmur, and be curious —
we are always here, until you take us home
and get to really know us,
while you sip your tea, in a comfy chair,
going wherever we can take you.

Everyone comes here, everyone is welcome
to look around, to flip through pages, or maybe
something electronic, or something in pictures,
or music, or to just look at some art,
whatever I want, whatever I desire,
curiosity is the rule here, always curious.

My first grade class walked to the books one spring day
we, all hand in hand, came to look, to hear a story
as we sat on the carpet, going on a trip
by the sound of a voice, and pictures shown all around.

We left that day, each with a book, and each with a card,
the key to come back, again and again, and find another.

And, so, I did, time and again, and again, and again,

finding new treasures, and new things to learn,

and books and knowledge to help me write a paper for school,
and to find out more about what I wanted to know;
to go out in the world and find myself–
me, always hungry now for more, still more.

The books moved across the street, and stayed a long while,
until my hair started to turn gray, and then they moved again,
to still a better place, another block away,
a new place, built just for books and for this town
so more could come, and more could be welcomed here.

This third place is the best yet, a place even for kids
all their own, animals and trees and flowers, and
bright colors everywhere, inviting them in again, and

I’m still a kid here, always wanting to skip up to the door
and wander in, seeing what is new, and what I might like
to take home and read by the fire, a cat on my lap,
a cup of tea, and the world mine to explore.

A big room now filled with people reading, thinking, writing a bit,
and reading some more, even people meeting in small rooms,
to talk, to focus on learning, and being in community
with each other, being stronger to be in the world.

Again, in this curious place,
another library day,
a spring in my step,
again for the first time.

Neal Lemery 3/23/2013.

Kilchis Point Walk

The trail leads me away
into the quiet of long ago
towards the bay,
into the forest, where the wren calls,
and two hawks soar above.

Through a marsh, dry now,
waiting for fall rains, a shower of
falling leaves covering my tracks.
Soon salmon will be in the creek,
struggling upstream for renewal.

Spruce grow bigger, taller,
shading the ferns, crowding out the
salmonberry, until only dark mossy rooms
remain, much like long ago.

They lived here once, those who came before,
in long cedar homes, tending fires,
living their lives with salmon, elk, and eagle.
Tides still come in and go out, and rivers rise and fall,
and salmon come back every year, on Spirit’s time.

Silent now, except for Wren, Chickadee, obnoxious Crow,
and the breeze off the bay, fresh with the change of tide.
The warm smell of summer almost gone, last night’s
rain bringing promise of the winter, the storms,
the dark nights, and the fires of the long house.

I hear them now, proud Killamooks, Chief Kilchis, too,
their canoes slipping up the bay on incoming tide,
all pulling together, all singing their song,
the laughter of children greeting them on the beach,
home again, and dinner almost ready.

I think I smell the smoke, see the peak of the longhouse roof,
and hear the women sing as they pick the last of the berries
before tomorrow’s storm, and next week,
the return of the salmon,
as it always was, and will ever be.

–Neal Lemery 1/6/2013