Ask me three score years and ten ago
'What is a book?' I'll tell you this:-
'A small one is a thing we have in school;
sometimes the teacher opens it
and looks inside it as she speaks.
It makes her use a different voice.
Sometimes she's funny and I laugh;
sometimes she's sad; sometimes just daft,
but while she's sat there with the book
she's not Miss Gottlebug at all!'
'A big book, though, that's different now!
We have a big black one at home;
it lives in Gran and Grandad's room,
I've seen it on the smaller dresser - which seems odd,
seeing how very big it is. They've opened it
(a few times only), not far in, to let me see
the picture of our family tree. When they've done that
they've let me touch someone, then told me all they know -
a distant tale of who they were
and what they did. But further on,
there's Adam and there's Eve and Noah,
and best of all, the Tower men built at Babel.
That one shakes me down.'
Ask me, the teenager, I'll tell you how
books became my rabbit hole, bolt hole and mirror,
a magic door through which I'd disappear
to surface in another world.
A worm hole, long before worm holes were known.
Since when, that truth has held, is still in place,
but as a man it needed to be broadened.
Non-fiction elbowed its way in, deserved its place.
Some book are wands (and long have been),
are wands that wisdom waves
to carry necessary knowledge to
a mind that craves it more and more.
Ask me tomorrow as a child again, I'll say:-
'A book's a magic screen on which words fizz,
change their identities and do not
say the same from one look to the next.
They make new sense - or none at all.
But nonsense is not no sense, so they find
their way into my mind the way they always did.
That's where the magic's done, and no one knows -
not even me - what they do there -
or what the truth of that will be.'
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