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Page 1

A book with blank pages --
we call them blank, but actually
crowded with woody and raggy life,
grain, sap, fiber, bits of bug,
all pulped and bleached
to a uniform white --

if seen at a proper distance;
no doubt pitted and discolored
under magnification, and to an
electron microscope, a grid
of discrete particles opening up
into galaxies.

Ah, my incredible shrinking
viewpoint, rest here awhile,
where inky rivers shrink
to meaningful squiggles, where blank
is blank and words are words
and the gift is given us to enter here
emblems of what, alone, is without limit,
assuming any or no scope -- thought;

this gift conditional (DOWN, Thought!)
on our being able to maintain
a proper distance.

Note: A communication, to be a communication, must cross a distance and reach someone. To get where it's meant to go, it must be able to penetrate barriers of matter, energy, time and space. But when it gets where it's meant to go, it must stop, or at least be slowed enough to impinge, not pass through ghostlike. The ball is supposed to get past the batter, but not the catcher. A similar game of penetration and opacity is the reading of a poem: Where to stop and smell the communication. What, if anything, is to be considered a distraction: the grain of the paper, the molecular structure of the ink? Or in the macrocosmic direction, whether a volume is thick enough to weight down a toilet seat against rats in a house closed for the season?

The point of the above poem is not to answer such questions, but to suggest that we play these intricate games all the time, setting limits with an ease and precision beyond any capability we imagine in ourselves. The alternative to a game is that absence -of-game infinite vacuum suggested by the old movie, "The Incredible Shrinking Man". At first it's interesting: His own cat becoming a tiger to him, then grass blades towering over him, then he's picking on molecules, and then he's shrinking right out of "his" universe (no return possible, it seems) into one where he's a giant – still shrinking, world without end and no hallelujah. It becomes no universe at all.

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