Thursday, May 12, 2016
Last Thursday I visited City Lights, specifically to visit the poetry room upstairs. Two windows, five chairs, one stool, and the largest poetry selection I've ever seen in a bookstore.
I entered alone, but there was someone right behind me making my photo taking awkward and self-conscious. He seemed serious. He picked up a book, sat down in the poet's rocking chair, and did not stand up until he left the room. I must have looked at ten different books—up and down, up and down—and I sat in two different chairs. But I was serious too. We were both quiet.
Then a very tall young man entered the room, serious as well, and focused, like the other guy. Just one book and one chair.
Any less serious visitors felt uncomfortable in our presence. If they were too loud and chatty, they toned it way down to a whisper. If they were overly impressed with the poetry room, and too vocal about it, they calmed down and patiently perused the collection. Those who obviously didn't care about poetry, but were inspecting the place as a landmark, departed quickly.
But maybe it wasn't us. Maybe the poetry room has its own power. It's possible it controlled us too.