Reading Your Way into the Ocean of a Book

by Hope Coulter

For the first few lines of a book
you’re aware of the text, the black on cream,

the building of sentences out of words.  The serifs
have small but forcible personalities —

expectant Chapter with its open-eaved r,
One with its round globe of promise;

the periods matter-of-fact, stopping
just short of smug; old-school a tipping its cap

and the tailed characters in debonair array —
artful and random as bird-tracks on the sand,

near the sea, or ripple-marks under the shallows
when you wade with your feet on the sandy bottom, water cold

against your thighs.  Just so the waves lap your waist and chest
for quite a long way, sometimes, depending on the form

of that coastline and sculpted shelf, and what currents
dash bits of salt into your mouth as you duck and lunge forward

through dialogue, toward the next block of text and into the moment the water takes
you, your feet go up, your tentacle hair

turns silky, your hands become blades,
and you’re in the story, swimming, buoyant.