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Poem-A-Week

Florence and Fifth Avenue
by Anastasia Helena Fenald

Dear Library,

 

You stand on the bones of clay tablets,

          your stories etched in hard stone.

Hands form mouth sounds into letters,

          kept precious as treasure shelved neatly.

You exist before the Dewey Decimal,

          the need to horde knowledge as intrinsic as breathing.

Dear Library,

 

You crawl from the salty waves of the Mediterranean.

         Her waters lap at man’s land and siren songs fill man’s head.

As Galileo says the sun is the center of the galaxy,

         the sea is home to your beginnings.

Sailors swim from shore to shore, tales on their tongues

         that you house for safe keeping.

 

Dear Sims Library,

 

You begin as a dream in a suitcase,

         made of plastic wheels bit broken from sharp gravel.

You never swim in the Mediterranean.

         don’t know fine clay dust from a scribe’s chisel.

But you know Florence and 5th Avenue,

         know a Watt’s classroom and gentle hands.

You know a voice that dared to speak you out loud,

         know the magic of wishing in the bricks of your building.

You know the power of poetry, rhythm and rhyme

         a simple phrase for joy.  

Dear Sims Library,

 

You are your own history,

        a poem cannot contain you, but I will speak your story.

I write it down to put on your shelf for a new soul to find

        and press evolution to their heart at your marvelous existence.

You are a dream sprouted from a legacy of burnt books,

        of languages stolen, of stories broken, of pebbles left discarded.

But you are whole—earnest in your gleaming windows and blue paint,

        a wallflower in Inglewood daring to dance in the landscape.

Your name a place prophesied by oral tradition,

        a home for the word hungry, a home for all written ambition.

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Anastasia Helena Fenald (b. 1992) is a second-generation Ukrainian-Latinx-American poet from Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert. She spends most of her free time attending poetry workshops, performing at local open mics, and finding new ways to connect with fellow poets. Her debut poetry collection, "Help Me, I'm Here", will be published in June 2022 by the Sims Library of Poetry Press. She is currently working on a poetry website, LosPoetry.com, that will debut this spring that will be an open mic community calendar and a poet directory. You can find her on Instagram/twitter: @anastasiafenald