With snow white skin this librarian

looked like a porcelain Kabuki doll.

She was contained and constrained and like

Chapelizod’s Mr. Duffy lived at a little distance from her body,

with hair tightly wrapped in a bun, she was armed with a tiny gold cross

glittering in the center of well hidden scrunched bosoms.

A due diligence worker, guardian of silence and rules,

never raising her voice beyond a fricative hushed whisper.

Unsmiling secular nun, what kind of life do you have

when not safely sequestered behind the counter?

Are you a casualty of old-school Father O’Toole?

In his foreboding fusty confessional booth did

he thwart your quivering river of desire?

Do you ever smile or laugh, sing or dance, touch or be touched?

Do you have a life of solitude, secretly imaginative

like Emily Dickenson?

Are you drawn to bourbon or red wine for solace

or are you the lonely woman in that novel who put

herself to sleep each night sucking on a baby bottle?

Is anybody home in your home?

All alone, do you cuddle pets or coddle plants

or take wilderness walks at one with birds and beasts of prey?

Even Thoreau so alone at Walden went home to mother for Sunday dinner.

Your lackluster eyes and forlorn demeanor tell me that you need a friend

who might defrost the frozen tundra of your body armor.

I wish for you a Latin lover with romantic finesse who would teach

you the fandango, merengue and bossa-nova.

Be his little mariposa and you’ll never grow old

allowing the luscious budding chrysalis lying

dormant in you to unfurl.

M.P. Ehrlich