The Bookbinder’s Dilemma By Tallie Gabriel

The Bookbinder’s Dilemma

It  turns  out  in  fact  that  in  the  encyclopedia  of all things, 
your  picture  is  nestled  just  between  the  sun  and   moon
the  only  reasonable  place  to  put a   creature  such as  you
In  an  earlier  draft, they  thought to  mark  you  as  a  bird
for  the  way  you  fly,  suspended  as if  just  before  a  fall 
but  it  is  wrong  for  ornithology,  your  command  of  light 

To turn a dim dank dust-ridden room from  dark to blazing  light 
as you do, the bookbinders fail to correctly categorize such things 
scared to fly and see; what becomes of the books then if they fall?
But I am no bookbinder, and to chase the sun I become the moon
strap on metal wings like a most fantastic apocalyptic kind of bird 
(But tell the encyclopedia printers I crashed, when I make it to you)

(They would reduce your planetary grandness into a fraction of you)
and so I’ll have asteroids for breakfast, use neighboring stars for light
for the rest of my days,  perched in your orbit,  your galactic tin  bird
Much like that roadtrip, when the trunk broke and lost all our things
we cried, but then again, you don’t need pajamas to live by the  moon
beers on the side of the highway & truckers watched our suitcases fall

The whole country, we thought: Maine in July, reach California by fall
who could want anything more than gas station Fritos, coffee and you
I learned to chart the changes in your mood by the phases of the moon
On dark days, my sole soul mission became to be your purveyor of light
In this way we made adventures of mishaps and most ordinary things
you passing me sunflower seeds,  one by one,  as one would feed a bird

But so, as we really know, you are not a planet, as I am no bird
and despite our respective scrapes with the stars, were we to fall
ours is not the sort of story wrapped in lace and jewels and things
No statue shall be carved of me, no new-crown deity made of you
We would fade like a dream meets a new day’s early morning light 
(What happened, again? Something with a car trunk and the moon

or was it a big tin cardinal, next to the encyclopedia entry for moon?) 
But the memory’s gone as your eyes blink, and outside chirps a bird
Like my favorite kind of day, just when dusk rolls in over the light
or when the last real whisper of summer trips and tumbles into fall 
I’d much rather be forgotten with the end of the empire than by you-
ours is the legend I shall be engulfed in when the fire burns all things

Were I a bookbinder, the moon would begin my encyclopedia of things
why must it be alphabetical, “A” before bird when the sole reader is you
Who are we any not to live by our own light, close as we may be to the fall

Tallie Gabriel is a poet and musician based in NYC. Their work can be seen in Groupie Mag issues 001 and 002, and The Rally issue 004, and in their self-published anthology, “heart garden.” You might also catch Gabriel behind a typewriter creating custom poems on the spot with Ars Poetica, or rocking the cello as a member of the pop-folk trio Camp Bedford Rescue Squad.

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