Fingerprints on the Page


At five my son presented me
with a picture of a man
in a bright red shirt
cowboy hat and jeans.

"This is God," he said.

"But Mum, his shirt is flannel--
That's what's important."
I put the picture on the refrigerator
I have been a Flannelist ever since.

The wisdom of children. The importance of TEXTURE. Context, NOT just Text.

I still have the first book I ever read. By myself. Alone. In a tree. At my grandmother's. (O yes this explains a lot about me. A tree-hugging rhyme bear for the rest of my life. Tiddley-pom.)

The memory is vivid: tree bark scrapes, oak leaves whisper,  the ocean's so bright it hurts my eyes and doesn't it look just like crinkled aluminum foil my mother sometimes let's me play with? (Part crow, too. I love shiny things. Caa! Caa!)

When I touch this cover now, it's less about Pooh and the gang. Instead it's a tactile whole body memory- the moment I discovered FIRE. THE BOOK I was holding in my hands = magic : A way to be alone and not alone.

Last week, cleaning up in my office, I touched the cover again. A rough cotton feeling. If you look closely, you can see the fibres. I opened the cover. There in the right hand corner, in my grandmother's hand:

Merle Hennigar Fitch. Her hand. Ripples of history. Nostalgia. Yes, am Guilty. Nostalgia.The word has interesting origins, ( see wikipedia) The Swiss and Cooke the Explorer are involved. Started as a medical term meaning a kind of homesickness. My point?     

I've heard of the word haptics. I know we can put the tactile in technology. With all the social media we have, there's so many ways to be alone but not alone. But will an e-reader gadget ever bring us home the same way stories in "book" form can? Give us texture? Hmm. I'm sure not sure. That's why I believe THE Book will  survive. Might fade a bit like the pencil lead has, but THE BOOK as above will still be here. (I picture a child raised only on e -readers finding his first one in the attic many years later and feeling like I do when I see a slinky. Or Etch-a- Sketch. OR Gumby and Pokey. Cool. Yep. Some fond memories. But not exactly fire.           

How long do fingerprints last on books "handed" down. Answer: Eternity.  

It's vibrational.

Or maybe just comforting. I touch therefore I am OR:

  Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.   

 "Pooh!" he whispered.

  "Yes, Piglet?"  

  "Nothing ," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."

I touch, therefore you are?

I'm contacting a neuro-surgeon. I want to know more. Yes, I'm getting an e-reader.

I know my fingers won't tingle in quite the same way.

First book and sensory memories anyone? Flannel or rough cotton or tree bark or... ?

Whose fingerprints are there with yours?

Don't be afraid to be touching.

Or nostalgic or worried about making bad puns.