Buildings look like libraries

Buildings look like libraries – especially at dusk.

The windows are arranged like books on a display shelf; some open and some closed; every story affected by the light and lines.

Look, in that frame a light turns on and a tired woman dressed in grey abandons her briefcase on the kitchen table. In the yellow square beside her scene, an elderly man leans against the windowpane and drinks the dying day. There are pot plants on his windowsill and lines under his eyes. Who does he see in the fading sky? Below his silent gaze, a TV amuses an empty room and moths beat against glass. Somewhere a door slams. Red curtains dance in the evening air and return to a private room where two lovers discover one another – timidly, quietly, aching. Their neighbour is bent over a piano marked with whisky rings and a cat’s tail twitches against the blinds. Someone on the first floor is cooking onions and someone else is listening to jazz – smell and sound spill into the street in a melody of senses. A girl cautiously leans out of her window; she fosters a flame and watches a ribbon of smoke unravel in the air. The window beside her is blacked out and a pigeon nests in the gutter. A washing line looks like a family of flags; swearing allegiance to florals, stripes and lace. There, where you see a collapsed colony of bottles, cans and cups – that’s where the lonely broken man entertains dancing distractions. Above his window lives a widow who is hardly ever home. I’ve seen her buying flowers, beer and dinner-for-one. The room where the dream catcher hangs always smells of cinnamon and a candle can often be seen flickering next to a photo frame.

Buildings look like libraries – a kaleidoscopic collection of stories and lines and lies.

As the day dissolves into the horizon, nothingness fills the space between squares of light where lives are lived and stories are writ in time.


Just look – her favorite color must be purple, and her desk is buried under battered books. Sometimes she visits the person down the passage; the boy with posters on his walls and a beanbag on his balcony. See his washing – he’s worn the same pair of jeans for the whole week and his shirts flirt with the breeze. He lives above a nurse who works the night shift and falls asleep while watching cartoons. A few windows across there’s an artist with walls draped in drawings and paint stains under her nails. Her dress was sewn by the seamstress who lives next door – she’s a poet who sings into glasses of wine. And that man opening the fridge – he’s dressed in electric light and gobbled guilt – he’s had a limp since that car crash we saw in the news. He doesn’t drive anymore but I always see him searching for something in that cold box.

Buildings look like libraries and something about dusk seems to mark another chapter – the part of the story where souls wriggle under skin and smiles hold the sun.

Scenes are framed by windowpanes. Characters float and fade. It’s an ephemeral eternity of experiences and culminated moments. A truly enchanted time.

The tired woman has shed her grey and cuddles a cup of tea. A bestseller book sits beside her bed and her briefcase has fallen to the floor. She’s listening to the muffled sounds of an-almost-forgotten song about a land that’s under another sky. Small beads of water drip from pot plants and drop past a window where a screen watches a wall. The evening scent clings to red curtains and two sleeping lovers lie with lips that are catching stars. A cat sleeps on a silent piano and a musician is lost to the night. Laughter pours from the room where a family is eating dinner and a saxophone calls for a dance. Ash floats to the pavement and a girl who loves purple knocks on the door of a boy who wears jeans (his legs are covered in scars from an accident that’s always remembered). A grey bird coos, drying clothes cradle the air and a lonely broken man opens his door to long legs and glittered breasts. A widow stands at her window and petals catch a tear. A light turns off as the nurse leaves with a bag and spiral notebook. The artist is tearing up a dictionary and the seamstress sips sparkling poison (the poems that clung to the glass now fall from her lips and taste of pretty sins). Two servings of pasta and a box of biscuits disappear down a guilty gullet. Ah – there’s the company of flame and frame, and the feathers that catch the dreams.

Buildings look like libraries – every word marks a world and time tells a tale that’s knotted and intricate and alive.

As the last of the day falls behind the hill, curtains close and the scene becomes still. Souls are exposed and lives unravel to rest between the shadows. It’s a time of poetry and promise; the part of a song when the melody carries the music and the instruments pause to appreciate the magic of a moment.

There she is – under the streetlight and standing outside the building. It’s the girl who goes to libraries and wanders between the shelves. Her fingers trace the spines of broken books, colorful collections of imagined tales and pages pressing stories. She likes to pull the stranger books from the sagging shelves. She reads the first and last pages; she fills in the rest with her imagination. She plays with the words; sees the scenes and connects the collection of characters. Her eyes seem faraway as she sways from page to page. There she goes now; clutching a yellowed paperback and fidgeting with her keys.

I wonder where her story fits in the library of life?

What words will build her world?

Will she grow old?


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