Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Going for a swim

Bookmarks by Crafted Fantasies.

I have three bookmarks in the shape of mermaids, made of Tibetan silver. Like the Little Mermaid and her sisters in the story, ornaments hang from their tails: chains with little beads and animal charms; a dolphin, a turtle, a seahorse. 

The mermaids all have the same expressions. Their eyes are tightly shut, their lips forming a little O, or maybe an 'ooh!'. I like to interpret it as joy and anticipation. They stretch out their arms, eager to dive into my books. When I close my book on one, only her curved tail sticks out, with its identifying ornament, to show my place.

I like to imagine that I am these mermaids. I save them for my favourite and most monumental books, which I would never leave unattended in a train or a restaurant, books I love to read and reread as often as I love running my fingers over the raised scales and carved hair of my mermaids. With them I dive joyfully into familiar waters, or immerse myself in a new but valued recommendation.

The metaphor goes too far when I write about it; the experience is more tactile than conscious, and doesn't take nearly as long to do as to describe. I pick up the bookmark, perceiving the curves and textures of it, sometimes play with the little dangling bead or charm. While I read I tuck it into the back of the book, or just hold it. That slight weight is there in the back of my mind as I drop into the world of the book. When something interrupts I tuck the mermaid into the gutter between the pages and straighten the chain on her tail as I shut the book. Then even if I put the book into the pile that usually sits by my bed, or even back on the shelf, the silver tail and jaunty charms are there to catch my eye and remind me to finish my 'swim'.

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