Lucie Nolden // HOW TO READ A BOOK

Read the back of the book first,

for the back of the book is your map,

and a traveller without a map may find

herself lost in the wrong world. You were looking

for a land of fairies and pirates but

took a left turn when you should have taken a right

and here you are, in a city at night, and

there is a strange man with prowling eyes

who crosses the street towards the heroine,

and this place is much too dark for you.

You are looking for light bedtime reading,

with a mug of Peppermint tea, and the darkness

is too bitter on your tongue, too bitter to swallow. 


Smell the book. Is it dank, odious, fraught with the

sorts of notions that will not sit well in your sensitive stomach?

Is it dusty and pretentious? Does it reek of Cheetos, and

does orange powder erupt from the spine

when you crack it open, a gift from the last explorer?

Ideally, the book will be perfumed with strawberry shampoo,

a hint of the slumber parties and birthday cake which

the plot will circumnavigate

on a lazy river tube.


Feel the smoothness of the words with your eyes:

are they coarse and overgrown, like the garden of a witch’s shanty,

with words, ugly words, unfurling their hideous flowers

in the place where the roses belong, untended

by a meticulous hand? If so, you may be scratched

by the wild and dense brambles. Always beware of thorns.