The Madwoman Who Called on My Wedding Day

She was calling, she said,
from the bowels of a library
on a college campus where she
hid each night and slept among the
stacks. She’d been living that way
for years, moving on when she was
discovered to someplace else
where she would blend in
with the scenery and pass
undetected among the young.

I heard her out. She’d reached my name
after running through the directory,
alphabetically. Apparently no one in the
a’s or b’s or any of the c’s before me
had done so. It was a strange tale she
told, how she’d been cheated  of her inheritance—
money her father had left her–
by a trustee, distant and cold,
far off in California.  She said she had no money to
live on, or even fight with, because of him.

I called the fellow, a reasonable sort.
He thanked me for my concern and
the attention I’d given his ward,
but he said she was off her drugs,
the police had been alerted.
They knew she’d come East and
were looking for her but they hadn’t
found her yet.  There were too many
libraries for her to hide in, in this
City of Books, a place such as Borges
imagined where for every

rational line there were rows of senseless
cacophony, a library that was the universe,
the librarians in suicidal despair.

I rolled over in bed to answer the phone and
heard her voice again, more desperate than before.
They were closing in, couldn’t I help? She asked.
What had the trustee said? She wouldn’t say
where she was—perhaps I’d turn her in.

I don’t recall exactly what I told her other than
to say I couldn’t help her that day;
another woman —the one who would
become my wife— was waiting for me in a church.
She was not the sort who’d tolerate a groom
who’d dare to show up late to his wedding and hers,
and so I demurred. You’ll have to try the
next name on the list, I said.

But you’re the only one who’s talked to me yet,
she said, and those words rang in my head
like overtones of plainsong, Gregorian chant
echoing in the chancel up to the apse,
as I repeated my vows, facing the light
streaming through a stained-glass window
thinking of her disordered mind, which kept
her running as I prepared to settle down.

Panthers’ Smith Quiets Hostile Crowds Library Style

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina. Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver Steve Smith likes to say he can make an opposing team’s home stadium “quiet as a liberry” with the explosive skills that have made him one of the NFL’s most feared offensive threats.

“You–be quiet!”

As a result, the Panthers have acquired a reputation as the NFL’s ultimate “Road Warriors”, winning eight of ten away games during the 2006 regular season and an NFL-record tying four in a row in the post-season before falling to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.

Boston Public Library:  “Shh–the perverts are sleeping.”

Smith hopes to continue that tradition this Sunday in New England whose largest city–Boston–is the eighth most literate in America.  It will be a tough chore, however, since Boston libraries are actually bustling places and not the quiet refuges of yore, according to Priscilla Smith-Volker, head librarian at the city’s Copley Square branch. “Goodness, we have a lot going on,” she says in her prim and proper manner. “There’s story hour for the toddlers, a foreign film series, and perverts downloading child pornography at the computers.”

Early in the second quarter of the Panthers’ 16-6 win over Tampa Bay last Sunday Smith was seen berating the Panthers’ offensive staff on the sideline.

John Dewey: An organized guy.

“I told them to get me the damn ball, but they were totally disorganized. They were using Library of Congress Class Headings. You can’t get to the Super Bowl ‘less you use Dewey Decimal Classifications,” he said, referring to the two principal library cataloging systems.

“Get me the damn ball, or let me renew War and Peace!”

In the team’s last road game against the New York Jets Smith was held to one catch for five yards, a setback he blames on the team’s coaching staff. “That fool filed our playbook under ‘Sports, Recreational’,” Smith noted, referring to the Panthers’ offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson. “Goddam, man–he should have put it under ‘Sports, Competitive’!”

At least he used to be a genius.

For his part, head coach John Fox refused to blame Smith or Panthers’ quarterback Jake Delhomme for the loss that day. “I take full responsibility,” Fox said. “I came into town and tried to check out David Halberstam’s book on Bill Belichick (The Education of a Coach) on a temporary library card. They told me I couldn’t borrow any ‘New Arrivals’ unless I had a utility bill with a local address.” As a result, Fox never learned the secrets of the Patriots’ coaching genius.

“When I get to Boston I’ll just buy it at the airport,” Fox said ruefully.  “Maybe it’s marked down now that Belichick isn’t a genius anymore.”

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