02 November 2009

On Reading Good Books

I get addicted and the words become a sweet nectar that feeds my veins. I become wise as I waste my time dreaming and breaking all the rules in my head. I become a secret agent for my wants and forget about the things I actually need. It becomes an addiction, this self-improvement.

I need to be selfish, so I become selfish. I need to be alone, so I ignore. They may knock at my door, but I am not going to answer. It's all the hard work to get back to where I started. And in the end I will only want the simpleness back: the quiet black and white lines on a page that dance and become girls who hate their mothers and miss their fathers. Of children sold to merchant ships and men killing old ladies in their apartments, just because they think they should get away with it.

I become the women whose lovers don't remind them of their husbands, morning dew clinging to bare feet as they let themselves in the kitchen door. I breathe in the mountains of weary climbers, breaking every boundary of human capacity. I eat sprigs of mint and fat grapes with girls whose sharp tongues will get them husbands in the end. I weep for my disgraced sister, and the scoundrel who pretended to love her; for the lost child in the old woman's dusty house, forced into servitude by ignorance and unloved only because he does not know that love exists.
I am the girls who become like their mothers after all, who are invisible steel behind their demure smiles. I ford rivers, marking my snowy path with old clothes I no longer think I'll need. I learn to speak Japanese, not because I want to, but because it is necessary for survival.

I do all these things. And I do them while waiting for my ride to pick me up, or between humdrum lectures in cramped classrooms. I do them while eating pickles and cottage cheese, home alone on a Thursday. I am swept away in the beauty of midnight, and in the small morning hours, too quiet for anything but imagination.

I say, let the world bustle as it pleases--I will read it all as you write it down. And I will remember these black and white dancing lines more vividly than the flashing neon blues that illuminate your bedroom after darkness comes.