Bathtubs and computers don’t mix and e-books would not catch on. It’s a line of defense we hear less and less given the new generation of specialized screen readers for e-books. But there are some uses still left for the paper-bound volumes, especially big fat dictionaries. Witness Roo Borson’s poem “Dictionary” collected in Rain; road; an open boat which gives the reader new appreciation for an old technology.
In one corner of the room, beneath the open window, lies an unabridged dictionary becalmed on its stand. Pressed between its pages are buttercups, sage blossoms, several summers’ lavender and rose petals, even a small moth that fluttered in haphazardly one evening just as the book was being closed. These mementoes have stained the pages brown, becoming light and friable, more insubstantial over time. The book itself is a code, a key, a lock, an implement that stands for an earlier time and other customs, containing only those things that need not exist, but do so nonetheless, carrying them forward as a maple seed is carried forward by the wind.
Just what are “only those things that need not exist” remains a mystery that is best meditated upon by turning the pages of a book or by its equivalent — the turn to the search engine to find others who have been captivated by the same lines.
And so for day 798