Feel for the Book

I’m riding through the morning mist on my way toward repenting, thinking how much I love the smell of brand-new rubber bike tires and then I see one, bunny-jerky.

Inevitably I’d see one, squashed down to two-dimensionality, blackened and bonded into the muddied asphalt. The critters were new to the area, scampering between the yellowed aisles of suburban strips awkwardly avoiding eye-contact with our veteran rodents the squirrels. I thought the long-ears would be agile enough to leap out of the way of the ruthless autos, but alas…

The tinge in my heart is genuine. I mean, look at the thing, (I didn’t ride back to stare) but look at it, now, frozen in the snapshot pinned to your brainboard for the rest of the day, so absolutely flatted, ear to tail, like a paper-cut out. Charred, blooded, gutted, but seeming in motion, caught leaping. Frozen and flat. A maudlin meow escapes my lips as I pedal onward down the road toward the rest of my whatevers.

I was really in the middle of thinking about the soggy pulp at the bottom of my backpack. The tinge in my gut is genuine; my friend is going to be pissed. This book meant a lot to her and here I went, rolling my bike off into the start of a storm, thinking I’d be it back home and winding up with soaked. She’d let me borrow it and I’d only made it through the first two sentences of page one.

The rabbit’s left my mind and I’m racked with amplified guilt.

But it subsides. Rather swiftly, too, as I remind myself how close a friend this concerns, how quickly she’s likely… (well, hopefully,) to forgive.

But it was her copy, her token, her remnant, her memento, her trophy-even, mystical remembrance of where she was at every page turn, what feeling percolated after certain penciled-at paragraphs, the cathartic hush of bringing both her palms, cradling each cover, together, clasping it shut after that last sentence on page # 543.

Desecrating a keepsake was an epiphany; keepsakes suggest sentimentality, so: Eureka, then! We still have feelings, damn-it, no matter how high-teched and wirelessly-wrung we’ve become in this mega-bit bustle of an existence.

Was it that bunnies just seem more precious than squirrels? Rarer? Sacred? That books are just so much more precious than e-reader devices. That I would whip myself at being so neglectful in the transport of this cargo.

That a few hundred pages, a small rectangle of binding, could mean so much to someone… Whereas your kindles only hold cold, ethereal, intangible things, echoes-of-shells, Moby Dick compressed to a zip-file…fleeting… But this book, man, this book’s been places with me as much as it’s taken me places. That’s what matters.

That it is matter. That it can be destroyed. So I try to hold it, hold it dear. Can’t be erased like a file and you sure-can’t cherish a file with your hands clutching it close to your chest, all melodramatic with literary reverence.

I’ll have to buy my friend a replacement copy, hoping that suffices and hoping I get there before the next book shop closes down…

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