This piece was written during an experimental Free-Writing Rotation inspired by the image above (on Gina's back!); first section Gina Russom, second Hannah Custis, third Tabitha Silver.
A million candles have burned themselves out, still I read on. When I found this image in high school, I saw myself in old age, rotting somewhere in a drafty house surrounded by books. I used to read by streetlight. Probably why my eyes are so bad. A page half turned, a bridge between the past and the unknown. Information reveals itself piece by piece, line by line through the smoke of dead candles.
People always ask what the book is. Which book, I mean. It’s all of them, that’s the beauty of the written word. We can be whatever we want to be.
I squint amidst the smoke – my eyes burn but it doesn’t really matter. The words are timeless, the words are enduring. The words are there when I need them – when I retreat, withdraw, when I find myself in need of intentional solitude or willful isolation. The words on the page don’t let me down.
How many hours, how much pain, did I endure to have these words inked across my back? An emblem in my flesh, a pledge to my first love. A collection of words, fragments, heaps of broken images, in my own ruins and amid the waxy remnants of burnt out candles I sit. I love the words, I love the pages, I love the papery feel beneath my ink-stained fingertips. I spend my nights so entranced by their magic, so caught up in their spell, that I forget to ask – do they love me back?
Your first love is unlike any other and mine has been there since the beginning of mankind. Before me are the ancient stories spun from words – vessels for living inner worlds – phantasmas spun into form. Language, words, text, letters, phrases, ink, paragraphs ~ stories ~ shareable not mine alone. I know that about her. I see her in a way nobody else does. Our relationship is held – collected in my heart. I remember our journeys but … I know I am not the only one who loves her, who feels like I do. Before I really got to know her – after I saw her for the first time I wouldn’t have thought it would be a relationship of the flesh.