Dan Beachy-Quick

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
Whisper through.
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
Volumes. God?

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
A Death-chill
                      in my lung. Coffin-orders:
A pen to write what I know to write.
A: wrist-star. A:
                         ankle-isle. 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.