THE MASTER AND THE APPRENTICE
So it was that I worked with a man who was dead.
The aroma was mystifying.
A blood-like smell.
His things were exactly as they were the day before.
Inked fingers remained on every surface.
His books left lying on the table.
Drawers of his drawings, his instructions.
There was an entire room filled
with soaking paper I let dry,
then pulled from the press one by one.
A letterpress book he made
for the King’s only son, wrapped in gold leaf.
They say he carved the skulls of animals for two years,
smelted zinc plates, printed 132 pages in 42 hues of green,
and died from it.
Each day I fumbled with metal letters,
misplaced objects that seemed to disappear.
And then a flash of light in the print cellar.
No mirror or glass to reflect.
So many colors in one carved shine.
(First published in Memorious 9)