I attach the document to the e-mail. It consists of a title page, acknowledgements page, contents page, fifty-eight poems and a ‘notes’ page, this last being mostly white but for three small paragraphs. I check the attachment has loaded properly, scan the document to make sure nothing has altered. Take a deep breath. My pulse is slightly elevated. In contrast, the book is serenity
itself. It adjusts its seat and headrest, flips down the visor on its helmet, tightens belt buckle and shoulder straps, hits play on the music system. The speakers are off on the monitor but I know the book well enough to guess that it has chosen either ‘Gimme Shelter’ by the Stones or ‘Whole Lotta Love’ by Led Zeppelin. We both know there is no turning back. Only one of us will ever be resigned to this fact. I can delay no longer. We’ll see each other on the other side. Click.
From my hand to the printer’s inbox at a speed of approximately three hundred and six million miles per hour; a lot less than the blink of an eye. There the book will be helped out of its capsule and set into its final format before being printed onto paper. Bound between covers and packed in a bubble wrap envelope, it will return to earth through the letterbox of my front door. I don’t tend to get excited in advance. The day before will do. But it hits me now. Another book, five years on from the last one. Five years. That’s all it took.