The book was good, they said, but dark, quite dark.
Indeed before the man had left the park where
they had given him the thing, the sky began to ring
with black and realized itself as if the Book had
painted it, as if to warn him what it had in store
for him, the heavy load it bore that he would have
to help to bear, and how its story took no prisoners –
in fact, left nothing breathing anywhere. The black
in back of him began to wisp off tendrils of itself,
like coal smoke, gasps of charcoal exhalation streaking
through the yellow air, presaging despair, attempting
to regain its proper place, its only habitable space,
which was the Book. Power emanated from the tome,
repulsing him, engulfing him, revealing its intent
to govern him irruptively as soon as he reached home.
He gathered this from what he felt but also what they’d
told him about how the Book could be expected to
proceed. We wondered, why’d they give it to him then?
We’re glad that we recalled what never had remotely
gladdened us before. He’d never learned to read.