Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Book Is a Hungry Animal

A Book Is a Hungry Animal

To Jamba Dunn

A book is a hungry animal:

A snapper turtle
That latches on with iron jaws
And never for a moment
Will ever let you go.

A boa constrictor
That catches you unawares
And wraps you round and round,
Squeezing from the neck up.

A vampire mosquito
That buzzes in your ears,
Flies into your brain,
And slowly drinks you dry.

An ornery old elephant
That has run out of patience
And with too much prodding
Runs you right over.

A man-eating tiger
Burning bright amidst the leaves,
Prowling on seriffed feet,
And springing to attack.

A book is a fearful being:
Always hungry, never full,
Surely relentless, rarely sane;
Always-eating word devourer,
Its bark as sharp as its bite,
Speaking in tongues, in every tongue.

A book is a terrible creature:
The gargoyle on the Tower of Babel,
Gaping forth with mouth ajar:
The entryway, the threshold to cross
If the stairway would be ascended
And highest heaven reached.

A book is a hungry animal:
The snapper turtle on whose back
Four ornery elephants are poised,
Trying to keep their balance,
To keep from slipping off the shell,
To bear the weight of the wobbling world,
To keep the hungry snapping turtle
From biting off their leathery toes.

Image credit: Lin Kristensen, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.