They tell you not to judge a book by its– well, you know.
Which is why I have this hunch that something in the spine–that two-inch wide column– deserves discernment. Is it poetry if I say that it’s the one thing that all the pages have in common? A reminder of thread; machine-bound operating as the ghost of hand-stitched. Am I reading too much into this? It’s probably time for me to close where I open, my pages coming together in flutters and shushes. And yet here I am, still trying to convince someone to grab me by the spine, slide me across to the cashier, and take me home.
And do you know what the worst part is? Once I’m buried beneath the other books in the stack– the stack that will never get picked up or finished or remembered because they’re too wordy, too nonsense, too whatever– I feel the most like me. Spine facing outwards, I’m just that sliver of something someone somewhere, could read, could crack open, could dogear, could underline, could damage.
At night, my brain unspools like an unruly ball of yarn, wooly and longing for a pattern to follow. Neurological pathways spill out in loose, pink tendrils. I follow them as they thread through places of unimportance– the convenient store of my childhood, the office of a college professor, the hallway where my aunt removed a scorpion’s stinger from my heel, the street before the street my house was on (a prelude to home)– making them significant.
Will I wear these things forever? The yarn of my experiences woven into a garment, the pattern thick and tight. They say forgetting happens logarithmically, in a curve. Which makes sense– the poems and places and people I used to know snag and catch on things that have long since smoothed and softened: the swing of a sad conversation’s exit door, the corners of forgotten arguments, the barbs of unaccepted apologies.
Here I am, wedged somewhere between moonlight and sunrise, gathering up neurological fibers between my fingers, knotting off their ends, and slipping them through the eye of a needle. With a pickling of gooseflesh on my arms, I start sewing something like sleep. When they come, my dreams are of me diving into my own cortex.