If I were a banned book, I’d be the dirty bits and the heaving breasts and the twisted sheets and the scented oils and the chains and rope and dripping candle wax. I would coax you into multiples, and I would urge you to invite another. I’d be the empty bottle of gin on the kitchen table. I’d promise to call, but never would.
If I were a banned book, I’d tell you to challenge authority and question everything and demand answers. I’d tell you that the 1 percent is nothing without the rest of us labeling the 1 percent the 1 percent. I’d teach you to cook anarchy and embrace diversity and kiss your same-gender lover in public.
If I were a banned book, I’d let you ask me about sex and growing up, and I’d sing the caged-bird songs, and I’d be each of the nobodies who would answer to the name nobody. I’d teach you to sail a raft and swim against tides and dance in towns where dances aren’t danced.
If I were a banned book, I’d be the light on long-past midnight in your attic, and I’d be the cauldron around which dance witches and in which fire burns and toil and trouble doubles.
If I were a banned book, I’d bring flowers to the grave of a mouse and I’d teach you that forever sometimes means forever and sometimes means less than forever but always means what forever will mean to you, then, at that moment.
If I were a banned book, I’d be the secrets you write in your diary and I’d be the lies you write in your diary and I’d be the truths that you wish weren’t truths that you write in your diary.
If I were a banned book, I’d be cupboards and wardrobes and the hidden door under a stairwell in which lives the boy who lived. I’d be beanstalks and magic shoes and godmothers, winged and otherwise. I’d be potion poultice poetry. I’d be words wings wizardry.
If I were a banned book, I’d dance with insects outside of an enormous peach, and I’d race wolves in woods overgrown with ivy and snow. I’d be the substitute teacher who’d let you smoke cigarettes outside. I’d be the comic book hidden behind your history book.
If I were a banned book, I’d urge you to go ask Alice, and wrinkle time, and ride in talking cars. Everyday, I’d crown a new king fly-lord, and everyday would be a good day to say goodbye to something.
If I were a banned book, I’d be the Pigman and I’d be a Wallflower and I’d be the story of Sleeping Beauty, written under a penname. I’d kill mockingbirds and I’d talk about the things we talk about when we talk about things like death and love and sex and forever, which, as I already would have taught you, sometimes means less than forever but always mean what forever will mean to you, then, at that moment.
“Well, after I’ve been to a University, I’m going to be French. And I’m going to go to Paris, and I’m going to smoke and wear black and listen to Jacques Brel, and I won’t speak. Ever.”—Jenny, in An Education
“When I was little, all I wanted to do was grow up as fast as I could. But I can’t see the point of it all. Not anymore. Getting older. I see my future like a waiting room in a big train station with benches and drafts. Outside, hordes of people run by without seeing me. They’re all in a rush taking trains and taxis. They have somewhere to go, someone to meet, and I sit there, waiting.”—
“I began to draw an invisible boundary between myself and other people. No matter who I was dealing with. I maintained a set distance, carefully monitoring the person’s attitude so that they wouldn’t get any closer. I didn’t easily swallow what other people told me. My only passions were books and music.”—
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”—Lord Byron
“There is a kind of crying I hope you have not experienced, and it is not just crying about something terrible that has happened, but a crying for all of the terrible things that have happened, not just to you but to everyone you know and to everyone you don’t know and even the people you don’t want to know, a crying that cannot be diluted by a brave deed or a kind word, but only by someone holding you as your shoulders shake and your tears run down your face.”—Lemony Snicket
“We spend more on war than we do on education. It’s no wonder we have smart bombs and dumb fucking children. […] Soon the bombs are going to be too smart and too expensive and we’ll just drop litters of children.”—Jon Stewart, in an old comedy show I just caught on HBO (14th Annual Young Comedians Show)