The book is on my chest face-down like a dead bird, a lowercase W, a child’s sketch. The picture of the author on the back, a UPC code only computers can read. A postage stamp I used as a bookmark with a quote by Donne, says Letters Mingle Souls.
You can make connections to things until it makes you mad: magical numbers and sequences that keep you up at night, taunting with the promise of something more, voices.
My mom had a psychic friend who used the game Boggle to communicate with the spirit world. When her car broke down, it gave her the word of the bad part. The letters coiled around themselves like a snake: ALTERNATORBRACKET. She dreamt about my mom, said she was covered in flames: that meant she had the gift, too. The gift comes with a cost if you accept it.
Me, I just communicate through my iPod on Shuffle. On days with good reception, it tells me what I should do with my life. Today, it started with Don Quixote by Gordon Lightfoot, and when I sat down to read my book I looked up at our bookshelf, and there he was, between a poetry anthology and Lost in the Funhouse: Don Quixote, quixotic, raving mad.
For some, this world isn’t enough: they need to prop it up with an after-life, or talk to the dead, like overpaid consultants who speak in abstractions.
The desire to live is so strong we can’t believe there’s an end. We write journals, secretly hoping someone will find us after we’re gone.
The books inside us become our kids: unmistakable reflections of ourselves in all our glory and defeat, an outcome of ourselves that changes us forever, lets us see us for who we really are.