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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Blue Heron Review published my poem, “The Library on Market Street”

Blue Heron Review’s Fall 2023 edition themed ‘Heart Source and Haven’ includes my poem “The Library on Market Street.” It is the true story of many children who came to the Aberdeen Timberland Library when I served as Youth Services Librarian there. My co-workers and I worked very hard to be sure that all children and families felt welcome. In a community ravaged by unemployment and other negative effects of downturns in the forestry and fishing industries, many children lived in unstable situations. We always wanted the library to be a bright and cheerful place with lots of fun programs and also independent ways to pass the time. I hope we engendered a love of reading and made each and every young patron feel honored and valued. Here is my poem:

The Library on Market Street

Child with no address finds herself

in an adventure with the dog

she always wanted. It is afternoon

and she is locked out again.

But this place is always open

when it says it will be.

She found the library when she

visited with her fourth grade class.

Was allowed to check out a book

to take home. A book about

Egypt. But they moved from the car

to the shelter and she couldn’t find

Egypt to return. The librarian said

she would save books behind the desk

so the girl could read on weekends

or after school. Like the one called

How to Draw Horses she could use

to create her own mustang and a mare.

Then the librarian gathered the class

for a story, a silly story about magic

animals and when the children joined

in the refrain the girl laughed

for the first time in this town. She

has never been to Disneyland or Six Flags

or Yellowstone, but she comes

to the public library all summer. Scratch

paper and pencils wait on a shelf

and a new paperback about a girl

and a puppy. No one else has read it

yet. The pages smell like clean sheets.

They welcome her within them.

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