Here blank page faces blank page,
cheek by jowl, cheeky indeed, for when I
open the book, these pages, packed together
and swelling out in a gentle curve
from where they are glued to binding
(like plump, hairless thighs from their juncture),
seem sleek, solid, sensuous things,
far more substantial than the same number
of unbound sheets.
I remember the pleasure of running a finger
over the gilded edges of pages, with the book closed
(as if mocking the sharpness of each page),
knowing this solid, interestingly milled surface
to be composed of sharp, flimsy edges;
fun, too, to open a book, hold all the pages
curved back, compressed between fingers and thumb,
then riffle them (PFFFFFFFT!) off the thumb.
These pleasures were the same, whether or not
the pages were blank, perhaps increased by printer's ink,
for it was a distinct joy, halfway through a book,
to find that the pages I'd read formed a fullness
that could sustain riffling or compressing
to a slim brick, and that yet another substantial mass
(hundreds of pages, tens of thousands of words)
yet remained to be processed.
This creation, thin page by page, of a manifold brick
of stuff, nothing like a page, too thick to tear,
too smooth-edged to cut me, was my achievement,
my making a book by reading it. Or by writing it here
where, until I write the next page, this littered page
(I hope literature) faces the blankness it has
left behind -- or rather, will soon encounter.
Note: In the last stanza, the page, now filled with writing,
has, thus, left blankness behind, but also it faces blankness
the next page, not yet filled.
Stanza 2 refers to the "gilded edges of pages", but
I see no such books on my shelves. Remember when fancy hard-back
books had gilded (or other wise covered) edges of pages, so that
some books, until opened, looked like golden bricks? (And I, when
not wanting to confront homework, would lock myself in the bathroom
with a book goldbricking.)