Toddler Storytime

T.J. McGuire

Jacked up with enough sugar to power a fleet
of Super Sport V-8 Bentleys, hotrod toddlers
tear ass through the library and shriek like
Goodyear slick treads burning rubber.
The children’s area bursts into a J. R. R. Tolkien
meets M. C. Escher scene—complete with
hyperactive hobbits doing wind-sprints
up the walls and down and over the ceiling,
while parents struggle to collect their precious kiddies
who tornado through aisles like hellcats
eager to wreak havoc on innocent picture books.

Then—
I am called in like FEMA, a first responder
to tidy up the aftermath of storytime’s disaster;
pushing in chairs, re-leveling shelves,
pitching a soggy, slobbered-on board book,
one left by a mother who had lent it to her newborn
as a temporary teething ring.

An hour later, the library is a kid-free oasis;
a page out of Walden Pond.
I get behind the mule of my shelving cart;
plow the field beneath the hypnotic cicada buzz
of florescent ceiling lights.
The stacks become trees bearing Pink Lady apples;
the library an orchard.
And I am the farmer, satisfied by the sound of
barcode scanners chirruping like crickets,
the faraway mooing of cell phones vibrating on wood.
Even the soft clickety-clack of fingertips
typing on computer keys is water babbling over stones.
Soon I am a ground squirrel foraging Legos
like acorns off the forest floor,
contemplating the fiction and non-fiction
of minimum wage.

about the author
T.J. McGuire was the winner of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Memorial Poetry Prize in
2005. He is an Antioch Writers’ Workshop alumnus for scholarships awarded to him by
Mock Turtle Zine in 2014 and 2015. Multiple works of his can be found in Mock Turtle
Zine and Flights. He currently lives in Dayton, Ohio, with his wife and two daughters.

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