what a bind

I went to a fascinating “show and tell” at the local archive office last week, where the archivist talked about bookbinding and conservation and showed us the tools of her trade.

book binding tools
I found it a bit frustrating to see so many blank books lying on the table without anyone seeming to have any intention of writing in them.

All those blank pages, waiting to be spoiled – or to fulfil their purpose, if you prefer. It made me feel doubly guilty that it’s been so long since I really wrote anything new.
bookbinding tools and hand-made pamphlets
When I was wondering what to post today, I looked through the pictures I’d taken during the talk and then remembered that I had a poem about being bound, even if not quite so elegantly as the books in the archive.


She wore rings,
and I wondered
how she could write
with those things
on her fingers.

Those links to the past
how they last!
Chains of gold
hold her fast
to that bastard.

Just think of the things
you can do without rings:
with no ties
and no strings –
spread your wings!

Which brings me to another piece about the ties that bind:

Amor, Amor
(after Garcilaso de la Vega)

Love offered me a cloth so fine and rich,

with folds so ample, I could not refuse

but sewed myself a habit, stitch by stitch.

I find the garment shrinks with daily use:

its generous measures pucker and draw tight,

I suffocate where once I’d room to spare;
I stretch and strain to free myself, I fight,

yet still the precious fabric will not tear.
Come, show me one who wants to cut these ties –

these homespun tapes we fashion for our lives

to bind ourselves to husbands or to wives –

and I will show you one who’s spinning lies.

Each wears the cloth he wove, though I confess

I wonder if mine’s shroud or wedding dress.

And a final picture that shows the domestic skills of bookbinding close up:

hand stitched book spine; bookbinding

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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