Every line I follow leads me back to the library, rising in the night like some bright castle. Opening itself to me again & again in splendid valves of light.
Once I was a bossy kid, & I made everyone play librarians. Our library contained infinite items. We were all obsessed with infinity then—for instance I dare you infinity, plus one. The library had a room for everything : a room of swords, a room of crystals, a room of skins. One caveat : if you left the library, you could never go back.
This library is / is not like that one. In this new library a secret portal is revealed just like I always wanted. Inside the chamber is a projector. I sit & watch a succession of deaths.
Most of the deaths are so small you can hardly see them. You have to be very careful not to breathe them in, or they settle like dust in your dark cavities. The screen also shows giant deaths, but not as many. Nine out of ten are just particles.
I find another chamber filling with the sound of particle deaths hatching & crawling from their tiny shells.
I sit at a desk & look at slide after slide, through the glass.
In the glassworld, the Internet reveals a white cop shooting a Black man over & over. The man’s name is Kajieme Powell.
Powell asks, are you going to shoot me? He says, shoot me. & The cop just shoots him. I rewind. The man asks his question over & over, looking beautiful &, for a moment, winged. I cut the lights in the library & sit on the glass-plane feeling white. It keeps snowing like nothing is wrong.
After some time, I open a new window in my browser. I wait for the library to fill with music, or to fill with water. To give me something to hold on to. I discover I am afraid to leave the library. Somewhere far away, a swell of particles.
I’m in here & you are dead. You’ll be dead again tomorrow.
Emily Lawson is a 22-year-old writer based in Prescott, Arizona. Her poetry has been published in The Reader and The Lilith. She recently graduated from Hampshire College, where she studied creative writing and global intellectual history.