The fresh bookstore smell of them,
bending the pages to crack the spine,
notes scribbled in the margins,
hearts with initials on the flyleaf,
something to loan or to wrap for a gift,
something propped up on the bathtub edge,
its paper sprinkled with drops-—
pages wrinkled into a Braille memory—
that rainstorm run through,
how he put it in his back pocket.
Poetry touched by fingers.
Single words met by lips.
Words pored over by candlelight or flashlight
in a sleeping bag or in a hut with no electricity.
Books pushed into backpacks
and under table legs for leveling.
Paper that soaked up
the oil from fingers
of the reader
or chocolate chip cookies
in lieu of the romance on the pages—
finger food served with brain food.
Passions wrapped in paper and ink—
the allure of a book and the tactile comfort.
The soul of a book you could touch, fold, bend.
Books are the gravestones of trees
but also the journals of our hearts.
Cities of words,
boards and bricks of letters,
insulated by hard covers or the curling skins
Something solid to transfer the dreams
of one person to another in a concrete telepathy
of fingers and eyes.
Books are the roads we build between us,
solid and substantial—
their paper the roadbed,
the words the center lines directing us.
What will fill the bookcases of a modern world?
Wikipedia replacing dictionaries,
Google already an invisible bank of Encyclopaedia Britannicas.
What will we use our boards and bricks for,
if not to hold up whole tenements of books?
How will we furnish our walls?
What will boys carry to school for girls?
What will we balance on heads
to practice walking with perfect posture?
What will we throw in the direction of the horrible pun?
Will there be graveyards for books, or cities built of them?
Quaint materials for easy chairs or headboards for beds?
Will we hollow them out for cigar boxes
or grind them up for packing material?
Where do books belong in the era of Kindle and Audible?
These dinosaurs that soon will not produce more eggs.
Perhaps they’ll grow as precious as antiques.
Perhaps the grandchildren of our grandchildren
will ponder how to open them. Will wonder at their quaintness,
collecting them like mustache cups or carnival glass,
wondering about the use of them—as unfathomable as hieroglyphics.
That last book closing its pages—one more obsolete mystery
fueling the curiosity of a bygone era that has vanished
into a wireless universe.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Going Obsolete.” Of all the technologies that have gone extinct in your lifetime, which one do you miss the most?