24/03/2016: Acid in the Pages 1

(It’s strange, how weirdly inspiring (in terms of art) English Literature degrees can be sometimes. Sadly, though, I think the metaphor here is going to be a little lost.

This is, I should mention, not really a poem – this is something closer to a work in progress. Hence the numbering; perhaps I’ll come back to this idea. It’s a lovely one, regardless.)

(Oh, and for those of you reading who are a little lost as to the symbolism, here’s how it works: prior to the 19th Century, books were read only by an elite few, and hence, paper was of a high, low acid quality. We move to the 19th Century, the introduction of the printing press, and we need paper in higher quantities, so we move to wood pulp (hence the term ‘pulp novels’) which are of a high acid quality, and degrade faster. This is why, oddly, books from the 15th Century are better preserved than books from the 19th Century. It’s a lovely factoid, and a piece of symbolism I’d like to return to.)

We are told

To print our stories on

Wood pulp

For all the masses:

Give ourselves to the many,

Give ourselves to all:

Even as the acid

In the wood

Starts to degrade our pages,

Even as the acid

In the wood

Starts to wear us down;

Even as the dust

From too many fingers

And too many eyes

Ravaging over our surfaces

Breaks us into shells of what we were,

We are told:

Be for many.

Be for all.

 

No.

Do not.

 

Revive the old ways.

 

Print yourself on cotton,

Linen,

Vellum.

 

Make your scrollwork beautiful.

 

Do not slice open the pages

Of yourself

Of your story,

Of your heart,

Until the person who needs you comes forward.

 

Do not let the acid degrade you.

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