Book On Hold / by Akira Ohiso


I get an email that a book I placed on hold is at the Ballard Library.  A bit of planned serendipity that changes the trajectory of my day; I decide to walk to the library.  I leave my building through the side entrance next to Ballard Market and Quality Sewing and Vacuum. I wonder if sewing and vacuuming compliment each other in some way?  Why not sewing and watch repair?  Vacuuming and key copying? 

A line of used vacuums are behind a fence in a dirty doorway like children at the Mexican border.  The sad obsolescence of vacuums. Construction workers stand around a trench next to the new building waiting to be filled with merchandise, coffee and medical services.  I cross Market at NW 58th. 

NW 58th is a mix of Craftsmans and stucco apartment complexes, balconies filled with the detritus of singles. Ashy hibachi, bug spray, drying laundry, bikes.  Rotting mini-libraries house fingered Daniel Steeles, a coloring book, a cheap novel with a smoking gun, dice and a handkerchief with red lipstick on the cover.  I judge.  The best intentions of the privileged thinking we all have time to be part of their kumbaya community project. 

A brown man takes a mattress out of a moving truck and carries it into a rental walk-up.  The soft malleable bounce, dropping not an issue, a brief respite. 

At the corner of NW 58th and 24th Ave NW, stop-sign passive aggressiveness.  I waive that I am crossing and proceed on faith.   Interactions from a car are polite, in person not so much.  I pass St. Luke’s.  White people garden, brown people sleep under trees on the property, a group of white men play hacky sack on the sidewalk. An older white women changes the changeable letters, a task, I presume, for congregants.  A sign reads: We stand with our Muslim neighbors; yet I don’t see one Muslim neighbor.  They are redlined to the outer fringes, by the progressive fringes of Seattle. 

I pick up my book, my last name bookmarked under O.  I remember my password and the library procedure goes smoothly.  No requesting new passwords and usernames in the purgatorial process of digital identity.  I am the number I said I was like a Holocaust survivor’s arm.