Magazine article World Literature Today

Light of Sleep

Magazine article World Literature Today

Light of Sleep

Article excerpt

In the library of night, from the darkness of ink

on paper, there is a whispering heard book to book,

from Great Catastrophe and The World of Silence

to The Encyclopedia of Ephemera, a history having

to do with aerial leaflets, air raid papers,

bills of mortality, birth certificates and blotting papers,

child lost-and-found forms, donor cards, erratum slips,

execution broadsides "liberally spattered with errors of all kinds"

sold by vendors at public hangings, funeralia, with drawings

of skeletons digging graves and inviting us to accompany

the corpse of x to the church of y, gift coupons, greeting cards,

housekeeping accounts, ice-papers to place in windows

for the delivery of blocks of ice, jury papers, keepsakes,

lighthouse-dues slips for all ships entering or leaving ports,

marriage certificates, news bills, notices to quit, oaths, paper

dolls, plague papers, playing cards, quack advertisements,

ration papers, razor-blade wrappers, reward posters,

slave papers, songbooks, tax stamps, touring maps,

union labels and vice cards left in telephone boxes,

warrants and watch-papers used to keep the movements

of the pocket watches under repair free of dust,

wills and testaments, xerography, yearbooks and the Zoetrope

disk also known as the wheel of life wherein figures painted

in a rotating drum are perceived to move, faster and faster

whether dancing, flying, or dying in the whirl of time. …

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