Eat This Book

The Boy and the Book

the dad admonishes

do not eat the book

the little boy

old enough to talk

but clearly pre-school

is gnawing on the picture book

 

I wonder

is the paper digestible

is the ink toxic

what about the plastic

on the shiny cover

is it picture book of animals

does the boy expect

to find out what

a lion tastes like

can what nourishes his mind

also feed his body

will this taste haunt him

as he searches for it

in books  cookies  flesh

that bring back that memory

 

or will he realize

books are for reading

not for eating

that filling his head

will leave his stomach empty

that no matter

how many books he reads

his mind will never be satisfied

that it’s time to close books

and start to feed the world

The line of dialogue in this piece is verbatim. I was a coffee shop waiting for a friend to arrive. A dad dad said this to his child. No anger but forceful enough to the boy to stop for a few minutes. When Dad went to get their order the gnawing started again. The set up is real & I started writing this piece while waiting. 

It quickly become a list poem as wonder what I wonder about paper, poison & the like.  The book belongs to the cafe as they frequently have families drop by so I also wondered about how sanitary it was but I’m not in charge & am very cautious about infringing on people’s privacy. Watching brought back a memory of myself at about the same age wondering why a picture of a piece of cake didn’t taste like a piece of cake. My mother thought that was hilarious.

Then I wander off into speculation – turning the moment into a meditation on childhood’s imprinted memory. Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past starts with a smell from his childhood that triggers the endless book. I have a few smells like that, though I don’t have specific moments conjured by them – the smell of baby powder is one, the smell of Evening In Paris is another. 

The piece becomes a bit more philosophical about aging – books aren’t for eating though ironically we are encouraged to feed our minds with information  🙂 The hunger for learning may never leave us but, hopefully, one realizes that the search for information can turn into an avoidance of action. There comes a time when one has to leave the expansive yet closed world of books & take part in the world. 

The piece pretty much wrote itself once I got started. It didn’t need much editing either. I have performed it a few times & it reads well. I love the innocence of it – no angst to grind, no politic or sexuality – just a sweet moment.


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

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