Reading a paper book—a poem

Your eye skips down the centre
of a paper page
like a pebble over ocean.
You can see what lies ahead
you have perspective
and memory and speed
until you stop mid-hop
on an island that unfurled

an island that you nearly missed
a sentence like no other
for chiaroscuro and transitions
and edges.
Stand on it. Handle it.
Give it a kiss.
Every sentence in the world
is made of beads in boats

but some shuffle off
into bar graphs or petticoats.
You are startled by the sweetness
of this, the only time
you’ll read it for the first time
seeing how it nearly rhymes
and buttons like a pearl
to a paragraph.

That sentence is a sign
you will forget and yet
you plunge like a glutton
deep into the world of the book.

Rachel McAlpine cc by 2.0

Book of poems by Jo Thorpe, This Thin Now. Light bulb above.

Reading This Thin Now by Jo Thorpe. Ping!

When I say a special sentence may “nearly rhyme” I’m not only talking about rhyming as a sound. Perhaps the sentence “rhymes” with something in the reader’s experience. Or with something already foreshadowed in the book. Or with an idea or a philosophy… Or… Or… (Fill in the gaps any way you like.) 


10 thoughts on “Reading a paper book—a poem

  1. JT Twissel says:

    It is truly a joy to find one of those perfect sentences and experience glorious gluttony. Of the low caloric variety, of course.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You totally understand this delight.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    My good friend on the opposite coast and I have a two woman book club which meets on the phone every Thursday. Right now we are reading the Collected Poems of Mary Oliver (“Devotions”) and I could really connect with this poem. Her poems give me that kind of thrill bouncing down the page and then returning to skipped lines.

    1. I love Mary Oliver. I just gave a copy of her 2014 collection, Blue Horses, to a friend of mine.

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Isn’t it wonderful?

  3. Paper books are by far my favorites!

  4. Cathy Cade says:

    I’ve always been a scanner, reading far too fast.
    Since retirement, I’ve been learning to write (and edit!!). A side-effect has been learning how to read.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s interesting!

  5. JOY journal says:

    Paper. I love it!!

  6. MOMENTS says:

    Beautifully written, Rachel. Your imagery is gorgeous and original. I love the metaphor of the island found in the book where you linger and even kiss it. Your poem is a lovely tribute to the joy of reading. Love it!

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