Bharat Shekhar

Paging You

Cast in the same mold,
sheet stacked on sheet,
a book is paper tiger tamed
with its limbs tied together.
disciplined letters
follow one another,
soldier ants on the march.
Always that correct gap between each,
clipped, distanced, sentenced,
parceled in paragraphs,
loaded into chapters,
packed inside boxes,
paper backed or hard-covered.

When you begin to read,
alchemy occurs,
translating base black on white
into a living, breathing world.
As you open the book,
it releases the aroma
of all the longing
that has been
tightly clasped inside;
a warm waft of mustiness,
made up in unknown parts
of the first smell of rain
on dry earth,
the hiss of embers
of a remote campfire
being kissed,
of bats wheeling
around a circular stone tower…
It enters your mouth with
that slightly metallic taste
of lovers’ lips joining
amidst the clash of swords
outside the chamber.
See, see that page!
It just reached out to
lick your ear-
a dog’s tongue,
rough yet affectionate,
but you were too engrossed to notice.
There, there! Did you look at that lot?
They shimmered in seven colors
and spread out in the fins of a Chinese fan,
even as you were reading
about a rainbow arcing the sky.
This is the way of books.
Their pages bunch
to become bellows
whose movement
can play an accordion
or fan the fires of revolution.
Sometimes, when you turn a page,
it scorches your fingertips
with its heat.
Sometimes, it applies
a soothing balm.
Pages are pulpy with
tears they have cried.
Pages flutter
with your heartbeat in the breeze
as strange creatures
with iridescent wings smelling of spring
escape from their edges.

without your knowing it,
or the book showing it,
there is a merger….
… and the book
is reading you
even as you read it,
each racing to come to the end of a page
and turn it.
You are in the book
and the book is in you.
There is no longer
that detached distance
between black words
and eye,
between white space
and I.
And you are both lost and found
as stars blinded by the sun,
slowly blink themselves into being
in the darkening light
of evening.

© Bharat Shekhar

Bharat Shekhar is a freelance writer from New Delhi, India. When he’s not
writing, he loves to doodle and twiddle his thumbs.

Back to Main Loch Raven Review Site