Reading The Blue Clerk, (4)

“Verso 1.1.01”

“If I could not read I would have drowned,” says the author. Perhaps we who call ourselves readers—athomi—know that in the gaps and shadows of the required you find the unimagined necessary: “the library as I imagine it now did not exist.”

My parents lined shelves with their medical textbooks: Introductory Nursing and Advanced Nursing, Grays Anatomy and Introduction to Pathology, Embryology and Bantu Gynecology. I misspell gynecology, to wrench something away from the ugliness of that title. 

They put, too, rows of three different encyclopedias: the red ones for children; the white ones that would soon be out of date; the blue ones that were the most recent, but would also be out of date. And bible stories for children.

Shelves to build character and knowledge, curiosity and ambition.

(Have I strayed too far?)

He filled many logbooks with rain and its types: showers, sprinkles, deluges, slanted, bounders, pebbles, sheets, needles, slivers, pepper.

The author’s grandfather records sun and rain, and keeps “a full and thorough record of clouds and their seasons and their violence.” Logs of encounters that do not become language.

What is the language of rain? Of when it falls and how it falls, of how it carries whispers and washes away nightmares.

What is the syntax of rain? Of its sprinkle and needle, its gentle and force.

My grandfather, too, kept a journal. A record of family, I am told. A library: “he was my library.” I have never seen this journal, though I try to.

A notebook can be a library, as can a log. A grandfather a record keeper. And what is recorded: “clouds and their seasons and their violence.”

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