Reading Lessons, Writing Lessons; or, What a Coffin Means (Queequeg,
pre- and post-deathbed)
A Marked-Man, I—I
See the blank-men do how-they-do—read:
Eat ink; the word will
Betrays a sense in me:
Iím a page that must be bitten too—
Whose tooth, whose filed-tooth, will do?
An inked-hand to hold the inked pages—
I read at midnight a white ocean, a single page
Before the Printer folds the vellum.
Sew with a whale-tooth? the binding?
Glue of flaming-oil? From the whaleís head
Iíve seen the noon-ocean run black
Back into the ink-pot
And the white whale emerge un
Who can fold the ocean into uncountable
I ask you who. A Marked-Man.
Unfolds the whale, but folds the whale.
Death unfolds—Iíve seen
The jaw-bone unfleshed that steers
This ship; Iíve seen
Blank-men carve on cusp-of-rib,
on cusp-of-rib, their name—
They do not know: Where
The flesh they unfold: Where
Does that flesh go? I caught
in my lung. Coffin-orders:
A pen to write what I know to write.
A: wrist-star. A:
I re-work the pen-work: coffin-carve, a
Me into wood. Let wood know
The secret I am I was never told:
Where after earth
Earth lies. I
do not think I mean heaven—I mean
A map to After. Inside the ocean-current
A godís finger (to guide my coffin)
hides: after here,
youíll be alive but narrowed.