Mudlark No. 44 (2011)

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