Monday, September 22, 2003


When I was in college,
I was skinny and small,
wore too many clothes,
bit my fingernails and had
sex all the time.

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.

Our school library was
old and gothic. Shaped
like a minature cathedral
of dark, sweet smelling wood,
but there was no God,
and the angels were books,
helpless, blind and flat,
easily torn.

I knew every corner. Where
the red spiders congregated on the south
tower, the desk on the fourth floor
with the broken lamp, where I could store
books without checking them out.
They were never moved. The librarians
were stoned and indifferent,
or too involved in protesting apertheid
to care.

With a random boyfriend's help,
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, went
to my college, and there was the only copy
of his thesis up there and I took it down
with me. It was on onion paper
like baby skin, transparent,
elusive, made by a manual typewriter
in the days of carbon paper.

I took his manuscript,
leaving the valuable paintings,
the durere etchings,
the sculptures
and shining valuables,
the rare things people
and schools hide because
some objects mean so much
they melt in sunlight or with
too much viewing. They
burn with use and
therefore are hidden
and visited in memory only.

I took that collection of papers
and I touched it, the hand drawn
illustrations, the naive anthropologic
assertions, the poet's embarrassed
youth and misspellings.

I put it with my books on the darken
desk and I left it there for a week. Imagining
how to sell it or how to take it to
my own breast and suckle it,
make it a part of me and my own.
Imaginging the shine I would
acquire from such a valuable thing.

Then I put it back.

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

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

But this last spring I
finally saw it as a talent:
I can enter and touch
a space as private as the
chamber of a heart,
and take nothing, leave
no mark, possess
only in thought, and
return all to the owner.

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

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