Quiet Please

Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. Look on the far right. That's the point.

The main library is an old building. You can tell especially because the words carved in the facade that use the letter “U” are inscribed  as “V.” I don’t know why. It seems kinda Latin. Frankly, among the things I need to know, this level of arcane is even beyond DocThink. I can’t even.

The building is still amazing. It’s one of the libraries erected by ancient philanthropists. Ancient in this country, anyway. It was opened in 1902. While Washington, D.C. environs include much older–the Georgetown port goes back to the mid 1750’s–this is an old building in our city. Where old is after the Civil War.

The building is not a library anymore. It hasn’t been since it became overcrowded in the mid-1970s. It’s still impressive.

In addition to being “historic,” it sits on a square. Mt. Vernon Square to be exact. This square would have been a park, except it’s a big building instead. It’s a spot of land squared by roads. Some roads shoot from the square in angles reaching toward the edges of the city and beyond.

Walking past the building, I spied a blob. It was a purple blob. Getting closer the blob took on new details. There were two purple blobs. One blob was a backpack. The purple blob backpack sat on top of an indigo jacket blob. To the left of the backpack was the other purple blob. The second purple blob was bookended by black boots on one end and a sliver-gray puffy jacket on the other.

As the blob moved, it organized itself in my mind. I saw a mass of shiny black strands that went from a puddle of black to a curtain as the blob straightened itself. It’s a woman. I think she is a young woman.

Was she sleeping in the warm sun? Had she stepped away from the hostel a block away? Maybe she was a student.

Why was she sitting alone–and, to me, lonely–at this former library? My brain recalls that this library was a haven for rats.  I’ve seen scores of them scurrying across the plaza and up the steps at many dusks and evenings. Fingers crossed that any remaining rats leave her alone. I start to worry about her.

She was slumped on her backpack. She righted herself. That’s when her yard of hair moved and defined her. I couldn’t see her face. She was her hair. I wonder, is she is sad? Hungover? Drunk? Lost? I can impose anything on her.

She is a small figure on the far right of my lens. Almost invisible. but caught. She doesn’t belong, but she doesn’t belong anywhere else.

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