Dan Beachy-Quick

Razo—On the Nature of the Book as the Nature of the Whale


Teeth and pages and the whale are white.
I am white, and the white of the eye
Is the eye’s blindness, that black-hollow, the pupil,
Is sight. Do you see how a book changes
Its white-nature? A first page turns away
From an unread, ocean’s depth. Chapters?
How blackly we see our fingers fold down
A page on the dark shore. A last page
Crests, spills over, a white foam on land—
We remember the ocean as drowned men
Remember the shore. But, Sir—
                                              I differ here:
This book I’m reading is a
Book that to mark a page is as hard
As folding in half an ocean-wave to know—
In latitudes—where you are. Where am I?
In A Glossed Concordance
Of the Sea Language
                                in Melville’s Novels

I learn a fact. Previous books the author filled
With bay, beach, shore, isles, ports—
This book is written castaway, depth and deep, fathomless,
and unshored, without a
Port Authority. I find me adrift
In middle chapters; I practice holding breath—
A white whale’s deepest sounding ends with inspiration’s
Need. I’ve read one book three times, Sir—
With Pip, above the white whale’s rising, God omnipotent,
I’m scared to breathe and not to.