The Important Book

Michael Bazzett


The book said There is another world inside of this one
so we began peeling everything carefully away:

I began with the leather chair, revealing just how much
air there is in furniture.  Hardwood frame, metal coils,
shreds of remnant wool. Architecture is mostly boxes
of air, I thought, and then I wondered what is inside
air but epic space between the molecules: that is when
we stopped singing and everyone looked into the bonfire.

It seemed the book was right: there is another
world inside of this one and it might well be
empty.  The wine bottle passed from hand to hand
as we pulled lathe work free to feed the flames.  
No one heeded when I later slipped the book
into my bag and caught the last train home.

I hurried up the steps and let the book fall
open at a crease, spread wide on my kitchen table,
where it immediately projected a steady incandescent
beam upon the ceiling. How quaint, I thought,
as I contemplated the semi-bright glow, a little
disappointed by the cliché, not really caring
where the illumination came from. I lifted a hand

to turn the page when I saw the crisp outline
of a seabird—a gannet, to be specific—
silhouetted against the ceiling. Its wings
were scissored back, its body a white arrow
poised to fall into the green water and silver
fish crowding the shallows. Then I took
my other hand and placed it above the stream
to watch a cockroach shimmy in the blankness.  
My head was an opened flower, my cock
a crescent wrench.  My entire body curled
into a ball and balanced deftly on the book
proved to be nothing more than a singed leaf.