Book marks and ball point pens have one thing in common. I mislay them. All the time. Down the years I’ve lost and found more bookmarks than I can count. I’ve been prodigal with them. They come and go. Not that it matters much. I seize whatever’s at hand, used envelope, ATM receipt, any odd piece of paper.
I pick a favourite book from the shelf and with delight find lurking in its pages a long forgotten bookmark. I recently found going through a drawer two matching bookmarks bought in the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence during my 1989 visit. They are Cranach’s famous paintings of Adam and Eve. So I’ve been using them. Naked, except for a decorous use of fig leaves.
Eve had been keeping tabs of my reading of Fraser’s memoir of the Burma campaign. The book placed back in the borrowed shelf, books lent to me, either unread or waiting to be returned. Eve was left face up beside my chair. A visitor made a facetious remark about my having a naked lady to keep me company. I replied ‘Adam’s floating around somewhere’. .
It struck me as a good opening line for a poem. For a couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting but unsatisfactorily – nothing rewarding as yet. I keep getting lost in the metaphysics. ‘Floating’ seems apt. For in Paradise Adam could not be fidgeting or fooling or fighting around. I was back to Milton’s dilemma. Plus I don’t see sex as sin. In the paintings they both have belly buttons.
The 2018 Book Council Lecture
2 days ago