To Read from Paper

J. Scott Smith

I sit alone in a silent room, in quiet isolation
Nothing to disturb me, no waiting interruption
I am the occupant sole, but I am not the only soul

The whirring of a fan, like the drone of a distant wind
The draw and release of my breath, the thump in my breast
These and nothing more dare intrude upon my quiet solitude

Nothing more save for the rustle of the pages I turn
Coarse and old-fashioned, these crude fabrications
Sheets of fiber, recycled I think, stamped upon with jet black ink

The thoughts of another, captured, not mute, but frozen
Displayed here, in stasis, as if a collection in a museum
Rather than an assemblage on review as if caged in a zoo

The thoughts of another to invoke thoughts in some other
Written here, to draw a conclusion or paint with profusion
Not scrivened, to evoke an emotion or inspire to devotion

Whether to reveal the secrets of the sciences and life
Or to spin a tale of adventure or peace or love or strife
The page has no limitations, accept no imitations

And so I read, gathering into myself these words not mine
These thoughts not my own, these ideas I've not sown
In a steady flow of absorption I begin to learn another's position

Pausing now and then, I lift my eyes from the page
And briefly from this other's mind I disengage
Perhaps to gaze blankly at a shadow on the shade

And in my moment's retreat I reflect, not as a mirror
But as one sitting in church congregated, a hearer
In contemplation of the word in hopes to make clearer

Questions arise and answers to do not follow closely behind
So I trust this author to have had from the start a plan in mind
To open with a query and soon enough the answer I will find

I am engaged, my focus upon the print splayed before me
These words have ensnared me and I am captivated
My thoughts from all other bonds have been liberated

Returning to the page from my rest, I continue, bent upon my quest
As an explorer in pursuit of treasure laid at the rainbow's end
I read and turn, read and turn, as if following a map of legend

And when, at the end, I have reached the author's destination
It's then, after all, in a moment of thoughtful reflection
I pray I have understood it to some degree of perfection

However, if not, if there lies yet unanswered a question
All I need do is go back and review, to reread and examine
A page or two, or more than a few, and rethink my confusion

For the words will not have changed from what they said before
And I in rereading may find my mind knocks upon another door
And in so doing opens to a new pillar and conclusion to shore

This exercise, this meander through pages for hours and days
Is what elevates a mind and expands its domain
Educates and illuminates, what's hidden makes plain

To read from paper, though becoming a lost art, is to grow
To advance in both thinking and reasoning, to bestow
Not only knowledge, but the skill to learn and know

It is the first day of 2012 and while cumulative knowledge increases
Individual knowledge is on the decline, and fallen along with it
Is the ability to effectively read and from it to learn and benefit

The fine art of reading, of ingesting long volumes over an expanse of time
Of gleaning knowledge by study and by careful consideration
Has yielded to a harvest of snippets, as if meaning comes by proliferation

Books fell to articles and articles to blogs and blogs to comments
Letters fell to emails and emails to statuses and statuses to tweets
Words fell to slang and slang to sniglets and sniglets to leetspeak

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I sit alone in silent room, in quiet isolation
Nothing to disturb me, no waiting interruption

And I read from paper

January 2012
Plain Text


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