Bio Note: The narrative in this poem is pretty much taken from real life. What’s fun is that I’m still friends with this girl and stay overnight with her every year and a half or so when I’m on my way to stay at an artist colony, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Of course, they’re closed now, like everything else, and no one wants to have company come from another state, so even that is part of the world that’s disappeared.... And with virtual learning and electronic texts, probably no one is writing in the margins anymore, either.
Intro To Lit
Coming across my old textbook—cheap paperback, cracked spine, peeling cover—I leaf through it, looking for poems. I have no idea my seventeen year old self is still inside, lounging on the pages in loopy handwriting I barely recognize as my own, an odd shade of blue-black ink. . . . Did I check off Keats’s ode To Autumn because I liked it, or because it was required? I hope I loved Auden’s Unknown Citizen; I had notes by every line. I wrote at the top of Petronius, It is in the nature of things to live, to shorten grief. But what did I know of grieving then, when my heart was still uncracked? On 325, in someone else’s writing, a note from the girl in the next seat complaining about her GPA. On 327, she wrote in pencil, Touch me. I’m going to see Bill. Years later, I fell in love with the Kunitz lines, Touch me, / remind me who I am, but neither of us remembers now who Bill was, or what happened next. We both married early, divorced, married again. The notes in the margins, hieroglyphics from a lost age. Where are the boys of yesteryear?
from my book Gold (Cascade Books, 2013)
©2020 Barbara Crooker
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