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New Journal

The inky leaves,

the reams of lamenting

left me angry I was not living, so I left off,

stowed the notebooks with the hotel soaps and mix tapes

in a hard-to-open drawer—

but I could not stay away,

pined for each unwritten-down day

until I caved in, got another,

placed it beside a mug and a candle

on the table by my bedroom window

where now the book is flooding me

with all the ravings it might be:

A pep talk or a picked scab,

a compass or a spigot,

a greenhouse or a trash heap,

a flashlight or a shovel?

An airless room where actors rehearse

for plays that run one night if that,

or a stage on which to get the roles just right?

A chronicle of botched focus

proving nothing but the self’s huge shadow—

not moonlight but how I felt in the moonlight?

A box of fantasies or facts,

the salty remarks I wish I’d made

or the leaden ones I did make?

A different sentence to finish each time:

if my mind were a clear glass of water, I’d…?

And was the diary’s “dear”

an ideal reader I stretched to impress

or a pale and fatal siren

slowly doling paralyzing poison?

And when I said I “kept” a journal,

did I mean by that prison or salvage?

Spiral-bound quotidiana,

graphic graph-paper confessions

of nights laminated or purged,

lurid or dry recounting

of lists or hopes or errors or dreams,

prized sayings divided by asterisks

or secrets divined by no one,

choose me, impose a method, so that

tonight I write something more

in my brand-new, virginal journal

than today I bought a journal;

help me to fill this big blank book of days.

from Silver RosesFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Poems Rachel Wetzsteon

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.