# 42: The Poem in its Skins*

     One book, say, photographed twice, at two of its stages.  Early and late stages, say.  Some poetry books are like this—all the poetry books I revere anyhow: they start out riven in steel, with words like lasered slots, searing, authoritative gaps, words like lines of signal.
     Poetry ages as it is written.  In the latter part of a work of poetry, words begin to marinate, dry in the sun, give off heat and herbal fragrances, crack, splinter, molt, shake off dust, take dust on, grow hot to the touch.
     I saw a massive book by Anselm Kiefer in Oslo.  Each of its pages was as big as a bedroom wall.  The pages were made of steel.  The book was so heavy, the gallery had to reinforce the floor beneath it.
     * My title is derived from poet Paul Carroll’s famous book, The Poem in its Skin from 1968.  My own hard-cover copy is still like new—and still much cherished.  Carroll (1926-96) founded the Poetry Center of Chicago, and published the influential Big Table poetry books.