Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Diary of a Thief

In college, I was skinny
and small, wore too many clothes,
bit my fingernails and fucked anyone
who asked.

Excused from my glass house for the first time, I replaced
again and again and again the small
things, the feathers and the colors,
that had been broken inside me.

I loved to trespass: anywhere
that was easy to enter and forbidden, loved to barely
touch what wasn't mine, loved to pretend this was my place.

When I wasn’t drinking or fucking some boy who smelled
like all the others, I lived in our school library --a miniature cathedral
of dark, sweet smelling wood, a church absent God,
the angels books, helpless, blind and flat, easily torn.

One Saturday night, I crammed myself into the book
elevator and sent me, now a blinded angel, too,
up to the 6th floor, behind locked doors and bars.
A famous poet, you would know his name, had gone to my college and
behind the chain-link fence rested the only copy of his thesis.

I took it down with me.
The paper like baby skin, transparent, elusive,
pages fed through a manual typewriter in the days of carbon paper.

I took
his manuscript, also considering the Durer etching, the Degas sculpture, the signed Dickinson letters: the rare things we hide
because some objects shimmer so
they melt in sunlight or with too much viewing.

I took that thesis
and I touched it, the hand drawn illustrations, the naive anthropological
assertions, the poet's embarrassed youth and misspellings.

I kept it with my books on a darkened desk for a week, imagining
the thousands it could get me or how to take it to my
breast and suckle it, make it
a part of me and my own, seeing the shine
around my head from having such a valuable thing.

Then I put it back.

For years I have done this,
the forbidden, the trespass, and the baroque plans
with things that seem to be suddenly
mine. And for years I have only touched
and returned.

At times I have regretted the things caressed and left behind,
the Vonnegut drawings, the Monets.

But this last spring I finally saw it as a talent:
I can enter a space as private as the chamber of a heart,
uncover without stripping what shines and is hidden,
touch without a need to mold it to the shape of my fist
or mouth. I can return it unbroken, give back what belongs.

And it was spring
when it finally hit me:
now I can be a mother.

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