Sunday, December 20, 2009

Books of Love

I read aloud. Quietly, and to myself, my lips moving like the illiterate, or the penitent whispering to his god. I am not ashamed of this, and in my mind find scenarios in which I might read aloud to someone else. Not a crowd of them, not an audience, but a someone. In the quiet and darkness of evening, or the warm midday silence of fall. My lips, just louder than a whisper, make a kiss of the words of the page and my someone basks in those words.
Books are things I've always prized, for more than their material being. Before they were tools of revolution, or weapons in wars of ideas, they were secret doors to different places and long before that, they were love. Among my earliest memories as a boy are of my parents reading to me from books. One, or the other, of them would read to me before bed and would kiss me goodnight over my pleas for just one more page.
When I was of the age in school where the institutional “they” expect you to read, I did not. They claimed I had some malady, and I did, but it was of the heart. I did not read, because I did not want my parents to stop reading to me. Eventually, we settled it, and on the assurances that they would not stop, I began to read. We continued on like that for a long time. As I grew older, too old for being put to bed, we would gather at the kitchen table in the evenings. There my parents would take turns reading by the flickering of kerosene lamps. Sometimes they would press the book into my hands, and I would read. By the flutter and shadow-dance of the flame we loved, with our mouths full of words and were a family together. And when darkness had fully fallen, I would rouse from feigned sleep and beneath the covers with a flashlight. As many such love affairs, begun in darkness by sneaking light, that one consumed me.
On my own, I found in books love of ideas and wonder. The love of self as an improvable and improving creature, in the pages of each new world and idea. Essential to me as a young man, in growing and becoming, was that freedom of knowledge. I found, within and without books, love in new and dangerous ways, and from it made of myself much that carried me into adulthood. In books, the love was of growth, adventure, and the revelation of and in the self that being a young man is all about. Though I say was, that still is - I am still young, and reveling in revelations, learning and skills. But my lips have begun to move when I read. Not always, only sometimes, when I do really love the words on the page. My lips move and I whisper, penitent, ill-learned and broken, without someone to whisper to. Because books are love, words and sharing words, are great love. Some words too great to not be loved, some loves too great to go unspoken.

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