This poem's joined The Festival of the Trees 1 --- swing over, hyperlink-like, and read Dave's great inaugural celebration on all the terrific posts submitted. Every month there'll be a blog post by one of the rotating editors :) devoted to collecting all the posts submitted that month on trees. Tree worship is alive and well and thriving!
I open 500 envelopes a day: transactions, records, letters. Slice them open like pockets, remove sheaths of paper.
Paper cuts, edges like swords.The first paper was stone. Scrawling on cave walls, then wet clay tablets, wax-coated inscribed by metal, bone, ivory stylus. Papyrus, sheepskin, parchment.
Unfold letters, staple, sort, deliver it to the offices.
Papering the world. It burns. Flames of culture singe.From pictures to pictographs to abstract figures to alphabets, our grammars of sound ground into ink of soot, glue and water scratched with reeds, or quills, taking the five outer wing feathers of geese, swans, crows, owls, turkeys, hawks.
As body is to breath,
paper and ink are to mind.Without papyrus, animal skin, parchment, vellum or the plant fibre, cellulose mulch of pressed paper... our history.
The body of language is inked paper.The Gutenberg Printing Press, replaceable wooden letters. 1436. Cursive handwriting, 1495, Manutius of Venice, the 'running hand.' Our 26 alphabet letters not till the end of the 16th century.
Mass printing. Mass distribution. Wide scale literacy.The first paper was stone. You drew on the cave walls.
The world is papered with knowledge. Burn all the paper in the stoneage firepit of our souls.
Smooth burning words under my fingers.
Forests are the lungs of the planet; and wood dust and water promise of immortality.
Give us our words, records, songs, drawings, photographs, to store. Save diagrams of what houses us. Even Capitalism depends on the paper that money is printed on. Bank statements, loans, stock certificates. Cheques, vouchers, tickets. Medical, dental records. Taxes. All the transactions.
Delible records kept in the vaults of time. Mementos.
Ownership tattooed in the ink on the paper that becomes passport of proof.
Birth and baptism and education and marriage and employment and travel and retirement and death certificates.The paper trail of our lives.
Envelopes as wallpaper. Bodily fluids, tissue papers. Cards, wrapping, origami. Computer paper. Specially treated, bonded. Newspapers, boxes.
The world is awash with paper.
Inscribed paper.Mind. Hand. Ink. Paper.
My letter opener flashes like a slicing knife.
Envelope after envelope, stack after stack of paper. Filing ourselves. Pixelated language printed out reams upon reams collected, stored.
I wander the stacks of the library afterwards, shelf upon shelf, floor upon floor of bound books of yellowed paper inscribed with words, figures, numbers, images.
This gift of trees,
memory of ourselves.
This love letter
ah, sigh, I've been tinkering with this for months, it just keeps growing...