Wednesday, September 16, 2015

fragile liquid perishable hazardous

The postal clerk asked the typical and mandated question: “Does this parcel contain anything fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous, including lithium batteries and perfume?” 

(Technically, I believe she did not mention "including lithium batteries and perfume.")

I responded, "I don't think so. Are words perishable or hazardous? It's a book. I guess words can be perishable or hazardous."

She half-smiled.

"I guess you have a point."

Upon post-shipping reflection, I concluded that words can indeed be fragile (the infinite space between yes and no is but one fragile example), liquid (flowing in several directions, pliant, not solid, moving, healing as a balm), perishable (even set down on paper, words can be lost, burned, evaporated, forgotten), and potentially hazardous (yes, subversive too; think of the Declaration of Independence, or a declaration of war or marriage vows or divorce decrees or papal bulls or misreadings of traffic signs).

But I nevertheless betrayed my vocation and craft by answering "no" to the clerk's query.

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