in which the book, awake at last, revisits other readers

as told to Glenn Ingersoll

Excerpt from Autobiography of a Book

I sleep. Yes, while on the shelf I sleep. Do I dream? I dream. I remember my dreams.

There’s this one dream in which I’m lying open on the bed and a beautiful drag queen is paging slowly through my innermost pages. She leans close close because she is myopic and vain and won’t put on her glasses. Her eyelashes graze the paper as she blinks. No no, I can’t allow her to think I am ticklish. For then, what would she do to me? Such girls can be so cruel. Her eyes are dark, so dark I wonder that my words don’t get lost in them, blundering about in search of the naked lightbulb in the dressing room of her soul.

There’s this dream in which a grandmother, having survived all her children and all her grandchildren, is sitting up in bed laughing at me. I feel ashamed. I want to tell her that I am not funny. That nothing could be funny in this world, least of all my thin excuses, my wheedling for a thumbing (just one riffle, dearest stranger, just one licked finger encouraging the unsticking of page 49 from 50); nothing I say could jerk a laugh from your belly, grandmother. Yet she laughs. She laughs at my teardrops, each of which wobbles at the end of a phrase.

There’s this dream in which I am a doorprize at a spaghetti feed fundraiser. I’m jammed in a cardboard box with novels by professors about professors and twenty year old memoirs by twenty year olds. The smell of tomato sauce is oddly intoxicating, as though the waft of industrial basil and bulk garlic retinted the Library Discard stamp a hallucinogenic vermilion. I start to think I am being colonized by pasta spores. I tell myself this is not a nightmare. Semolina flour is not so unlike the wood pulp of which I am made. Were my paper to be replaced with lasagna noodles I would make a yummy main dish.

 

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.

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