THE BLANK BOOK
—Russell Edson (1935-2014)
The book was blank, all the words had fallen out.
Her husband said, the book is blank.
His wife said, a funny thing happened to me on my way to the present moment. I was shaking the book, to get all the typos out, and all of a sudden all the words and punctuation fell out too. Maybe the whole book was a typo?
And what did you do with the words? said her husband.
I made a package and mailed it to a fictitious address, she said.
But no ones lives there. Don’t you know, hardly anyone lives at fictitious addresses. There’s barely enough reality there to provide even a mailing address, he said.
That’s why I sent them there. Words all mixed up can suddenly coalesce into rumors and malicious gossip, she said.
But don’t these blank pages also present a dangerous invitation to rumors and malicious gossip? Who knows what anyone might write in his absent-mindedness? Who knows what chance might do with such a dangerous invitation? he said.
Perhaps we shall have to send ourselves away to some fictitious address, she said.
Is it because words keep falling out of our mouths, words that could easily start rumors and malicious gossip? he said.
It is because, somehow, we keep falling out of ourselves, like detached shadows; shaking as if we could get all the typos out of our lives, she said.
Well, at least, if this doesn’t hurt reality, it does, in fact, give reality a well earned rest.
For more about Russell Edson, see www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/russell-edson
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