for M.E.P. and those hidden among the dusty tomes


In the dim-lit corridors of a musty library,
Listening to the erratic hum and buzzing of overhead
Fluorescent lights, I sit hunched over my books,
Incessant trails of scientific verbiage cluttering pages,
Piling up so-called knowledge in tight confines
Of my brain, swollen from last night’s
Epic journey through another tome.

This is another typical night for me this week:
Sprawling out on a table with paper whirlwinds,
Diagrams, atlases, skulls, frustration, despair:
So much information, so little time
To digest and savor each tantalizing
Nuance of anatomy and physiology,
Maybe some other subject to peel off and chew,
Going down on banquets of unintelligible jargon.

Musing from within my den of stacked texts,
I hear sounds of distant page-ruffling,
Sporadic coughing, faint footsteps,
Even in this isolated world of bones and genes
There are others experiencing the same plight —
For one split second I arise and trace the sounds
To their source: a girl equally lost in a pool of paper
On the verge of drowning in it just like me.

Afloat in a sea of turbulent nights laden with insomnia,
To look at the morning sun with red, watery eyes:
We show these same signs of the crucible, our mark of Cain,
We recognize how much we had to exchange:
The pain, the triumph, the Sisyphean struggle
To attain a brief sense of completion –
For a fleeting moment we connect, only to break
Apart, return to our monoliths of dusty tomes,
Resuming our nightly ritual carried out with
Necessary aversion but consumed by persistent

Ron Maggiore, Chicago, Class of 2004