The library lingers in the somnolent air of the afternoon.

This morning the reading room and corridor teemed with patrons.

But now there is a melancholy stillness and time slows.

A custodian mops the empty halls in the yellowing light.

The Mid-Manhattan Branch, built in the eighties, strikes a clanging

note of late-century efficiency, crumbling plaster board and meal-colored carpet.

Weirdest is the track lighting, reminiscent of a motel lounge.

The Central Library is a stately palace that bespeaks majesty;

the individual dwarfed by the nobility of blue-gray marble columns

and copious gilt-framed portraiture, by the gewgaws of carved walnut.

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Paraphrases from the novel The Laws of Our Fathers by Scott Turow.

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