as told to Glenn Ingersoll
Excerpt from Autobiography of a Book
I stand, mostly. I stand and wait. I stand among my brothers, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip. Among my sisters, cheek by jowl. Each to each pressed. I stand among them, many of them far greater, older, more praised, more frequently translated, larger in the world. And am I proud to be in their company? I am grateful!
We stand together in some sort of order, usually by author, often by subject, sometimes by color or size. And when we get lucky a reader removes us from the company we keep, spreads us open, and looks in at what’s been going on quietly all the time, hidden, stored away like … oh you know, like something. Make up your own simile. Like a seed, like a diamond in the earth, like a secret. Like that.
I admit my favorite position is supine, gazing up at the circle of light the insomniac has just caused the lamp to throw to the ceiling. I like resting by the bed. After the hopeful, then hopeless, tossing and turning, the sufferer sits up, turns the lamp’s black knob, blinks. I’m happy to provide some company in the middle of the night. I’m happy to speak soothingly, soporifically, lull the wide awake toward the narrows, toward the dark entrance to the underworld where the torrent drops away, falls, and sleep rises over, the roof of the cave, the lid. And so, it’s fine with me if I flop onto your chest, your warm, slowly rising, slowly subsiding chest. It’s fine with me if you snore softly or thickly, the lamp vigilant, my words murmuring in the shade of my own body.
But don’t let me put the pressure on. If you’re not sleeping, hey, don’t let’s obsess about it. We can talk about something else.
I just like it, that’s all. I like waiting next to the bed. I like to be near what goes on there.
Glenn Ingersoll works for the Berkeley Public Library where he hosts Clearly Meant, a reading & interview series. He has two chapbooks, City Walks (broken boulder) and Fact (Avantacular) He keeps two blogs, LoveSettlement and Dare I Read. Recent work has appeared in Courtship of Winds, Visitant, and The Opiate.