Seminar: The Trouble with the Text (a poem for many voices)
Student 1: The pages were fused; I couldn’t turn them—
I guess that’s what you’d call “narrative cohesion.”
Student 2: The words were twisting and flailing like winded swimmers.
I watched them weakening with every stroke;
a verb phrase drowned, or at least, went under.
Student 3: The book was too faddish, I’d heard—
Student 4: —too retrogressive—
Student 5: —unduly religious—
Student 6: —immoderately profane.
Students 7 and 8 together: The key didn’t fit its lock. We couldn’t force it.
Student 9: The spine had been punctured—
Student 10: —the shadows were seeping out—
Students 9 and 10 together: —the very day we’d left the mop at home!
Student 11: The text was in Portugese, or Esperanto.
Students 12, 13, and 14: The book was so heavy the three of us couldn’t lift it.
Student 15: The book was so light, I had to hold my breath,
but I blinked, and sent it flying across the room.
Student 16: The book was too amnesiac—
Student 17: —too non-local—
Students 18 and 19: —too deep inside its glacier to be hacked free.
Student 20: I scoured heaven and hell. I didn’t find it.
Student 21. I found it, but it was transparent, and it was burning,
Student 22: suspended from the topmost branch
Students 23 and 24: of a tree that was also burning.
Half of class: Nothing more to be said!
Other half: It was not to be read,
Everyone: the undeniably conclusively entirely unthinkable book!
Claire Bateman | Mudlark No. 44 (2011)
Contents | Another Ordinary Morning