Ink and Flame

FotoSketcher - book-burning

I

It was a pleasure to read. The black letters scattered across yellowing pages like ants on a lemon cake, each receding line swallowed whole with a cursory chew.

The rain echoing on the plate glass and rat-a-tatting on the thin metal roof was a joyous cacophony to peach fuzzed ears in the early evening. The light yet solid body of the book in your hands was spread open with an obscene delight. The hunger to race over the words and push them, push hard, all of what they said into your mind. Not a word was missed.

And when a choice line of them tickled your fancy, you would quickly reread the bit and allow it to wash over your synapses, let it create new pathways in your gray matter, make you giddy with discovery. The scent of the book, the old incense of a thousand acres of wood mulched into composite materials, the aging horse glue and the scarab beetle inks; forceful in the hand like a warlock’s hidden magical stash.

The poetry engages you. You are a kerosene soaked salamander. With trepidation you walked down the street to encounter a blonde, young girl. She awakens your mind to seeing the world as it was, and still is though no one else can see it. What odd questions she asked you! The dandelions once pulled out of your summer gardens now illuminated as dream bubbles and spears of endless pollen to the universe. Imagine that. The universe beyond the city, beyond the fear.

II

You clench your teeth when you burst into the old woman’s home. Her library a pigeons nest, the feathers of book pages fluttering in sacrosanct dim light. Staring around your mind whirls in confusion. These things are not evil, these things are only things and the old lady does not understand your hatred. Your burning desire.

She will burn with her books. She will stand with Chaucer and Shakespeare; she will dance with Poe and C.S. Lewis. The fire you light will launch paper rockets from dreamers and believers. You will be the enforcer of the censor. The permanent, irreparable black line across the paragraphs is all carbon and charcoal. You are a murderer. And you clutch one of those rare and precious creatures to your chest. You steal a book. You become what you are told to burn. They will find you and they will stop you. And you will run. RUN!

III

When you run, when you finally run, the news helicopters will be following the chase live on TV. The metal hound with its despicable metal syringe full of quivering death, will chase you and not lose a breath, you will run for the idea of books. You will run for the words that you read only once. You will run for freedom of thought. You will run for truth. The overwhelming cleansing fires of the atomic bombs will wipe out civilization as you knew it. But in your mind the words remain. “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin” from the book you saved. From the words you gained no understanding but for the power of them. The hope of them. The survivors will be reading them over and over again from memory. Your memory. And you won’t forget.

Suddenly, its three in the morning, the soul’s midnight. You are fully awake; the last page of the story has at last been reached. The thoughts you have encountered stagger the mind. The resolution in your heart is complete. You will forever foster the love of reading. The power of the books; your inexhaustible contempt for the censor, you will fight to save humanity’s greatest gift, the printed word.

And perhaps maybe, you’ll even write some yourself.

 

 

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