The book designer's central challenge
(and, in a sense, every person's challenge)
is to represent a given title visually
in a way that's right but slightly
inexact, that strains like tide-moved ships
against their anchors, keeps the ropes
of mooring alternately lax and taut.
I once designed a book called Ellen's Brain.
A photograph of flowers in the rain
seemed right for it. I don't know why,
and nor do you, but so it goes—
in this life, anyway. We're always
presented with two things, our selves
and that which is not us: the sad
and bug-infested patch of shade
that gives the things we do their context,
and then, of course, the things themselves.
And if at some point we are displayed
on shelves, even then our covers
and our titles will be offset by others,
brighter, dimmer—dust-jacketed or not.