Crime story (This is mostly a true story)

It’s raining

In the library
skiving schoolchildren gather around a screen
hallowed halls of silence
mutated into a community hub
while the real books inhabit
an empty maze
of shelves
their slender spines

I ask the librarian
for a book
on climate change.
She smiles, pushes buttons,
stares at a screen.
It’s 363.7 she says
leading me to a shelf of real books
labelled “CRIME”

Oh dear
I’m sure it’s not “CRIME”
she says I’ll check again
She checks again
It’s under “CRIME’ 363.7
We look together
like detectives
without evidence
No books on climate change…
not one.

Is this the crime?

They’ll all be in
The children’s section she says.
Yes. Climate change.
For the children.
Of course.

The adults cannot take it.
They should not be exposed.
After all they only made it
Watched their planet decompose
Let them carry on and fake it
In a denial self-imposed

But wait, here is a child
sat on a red plastic chair
in the children’s section
Eyes wide open
She is fearlessly reading
a real book.
Astonished, I ask
Can I look?
She shows me, eagerly.

It’s called
“This earth is our sanctuary
and our only home.
A true story for children everywhere.”

Outside it’s still raining,
and the first daffodil
of spring
has just opened.

Eileen Neil

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