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Page 150

Each angelic page is also a leaf,
folio or foliage -- like the fig leaves
in which, at the age of folly (foliage),
we clothe the angelic imps who once
frolicked as naked as not-yet-written poems
on the beach.

So I, too, see a tree full of angels.
(Eat your heart out, William Blake!)
Like leaves, each page has its unique distance
from your eyes. Riffle pages, noticing
depth. Or read one flat page and notice
(I hope) depth. (Topography: Science of depths
and flatnesses, nothing more certain than
depth and Texas.)

Pages live longer than leaves -- some do.
Most leaves fall each fall. Some books
last a week, a day. But many gather dust
on library shelves for centuries. Only when
a civilization falls apart (always while
appearing more than ever a forever thing,
shiny towers bristling in the sunset)
do all these shriveled leaves fall from their shelves,
get swept into heaps, become a bonfire
(from "bone fire" -- for burning bones,
says Webster), around which children dance
in and out, dodging the black boots
of drunk, laughing, red-faced storm troopers,
burning in their bones,

pages curling brown, then ashen flakes, hard buckram
buckling, bubbling -- I remember my hairless
8-year-old chest turned pink from the dye
of the book I rested against it, reading and reading
in the hot bathtub until the water went
tepid, then cold, my flesh pruned
like book covers warping in flame.

(But I am here. They have killed a few messengers --
that is, angels, the pages that attend me.
I have many more blank pages. Have you ears
to hear?)

Note: "Flesh pruned (2nd from last stanza) – perhaps life cut short, but mainly, skin wrinkled from long immersion in water, prune-like. I just remembered that the book that pinked (again, not cut; this time, made pink) was a Ted Scott book. That series used red covers. The Ted Scott books, like the tan/brown-colored Hardy Boys books, were attributed to Franklin W. Dixon. Ted was a barnstorming pilot out for adventure. (Seems to me some of the Tarzan books had red covers too. Red in tooth and claw.)

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