[Copic markers and pencil on paper. 9 in by 12 in. Illustrated by Katharen Hedges.]
Stepping in you know it’s too small, too tight, too cramped;
Too filled to the brim with knowledge.
Setting foot in this hoarder’s paradise, this bookstore,
It will choke you, fill your mouth and lungs with the cat hair drifting through the air.
Suffocate you with jealousy on inhaled ideas that will never be yours.
Eating down these titles only to have them crawl back out your throat because you are afraid in here.
You want so desperately to get lost in here;
Wander through the shelves and hold staring contests with the protagonists peeping back at you.
Brace your back against a pile of words, clothe yourself in book jackets
Let yourself become just another book sitting on the shelf.
You feel like you should belong here;
Encased, enveloped, entombed in the words of your forefathers of print.
But you can feel your voice being trapped in here too;
You can feel the typewriter tape noose tightening on your neck as you jump from your tree of knowledge and fall into someone else’s garden of paradise.
Because it frightens you in here.
Because you think too hard about what lurks behind the corner.
You fear the thought of becoming a pressed flower between the pages of an old book;
Life squeezed out from your body and into the veins of a character.
It’s like laughing in terror, these tears wishing their way out as you work yourself farther in.
You wonder why you keep moving as your lungs refuse to breath.
And the simple answer is because.
Because we do things that terrify us.
We tie ourselves to railroad tracks, volunteer to go first, step into boxes with knives and locks, say “I do”, and walk into bookstores.
Because without terror we are blank eyed beings, words on paper that have nothing to chase us into real life.
We choke on words to remind ourselves of the sweetness that each letter carries.
Our tongues tie themselves in knots to bar the possibility of choking on them completely when our time comes to narrate.
We allow our chests to tighten in fear of asphyxiation to remind ourselves that the world outside our ribcages is wonderful and wild.
We throw ourselves deeper into bookstores to allow ourselves to read the stories we have written with others words and still claim as our own.
We drown in wet paint and cat hair to experiences rebirth and recreation.
And we sit down on piles of lives bound in musty pages to live our own unedited stories.