To The Author, from Her Notebook
I patiently wait for you,
white flag pages open towards the sky,
to move your pencil across my lines
like a navigator waiting for sunlight,
knowing it will come up eventually.
Your nose crinkles in thought.
Computer tabs of various publishers
left open and urgent
You get up a few times,
pick up your phone and distract
yourself on some app.
You even make a move to put me away,
because once you let your wrist and fingers start moving
you’ll make yourself tangible,
as if these words and feelings and thoughts
all really do exist.
And someone might see them
like a hunter stalking prey,
or worse you might actually feel
them and become not even prey
but the blades of grass they trample on.
And what a disturbing wonder that would be
to your current homeostasis.
As I lie on the desk I see
you in your element:
leaning back, or hunched over,
hair in a ponytail.
You periodically look around your bedroom
hoping some object on a shelf
will release the muse you’ve
been too busy shouting
for to hear its quiet whisper reply.
And from a humble notebook’s perspective,
I am amazed you do not realize
how much material you have lying not
in front of you,
but within you.
All I can do is flip my pages
in this passive existence,
but at least I get to take it all in
from my front row seat.
you are a god
who gets to create and imagine,
hold an instrument and put it to paper
and suddenly will something into existence.
As you angrily scribble out grammar errors
and restructure whole pages,
searching to summon just the right words.
you see failure.
I know this because your eyes
are the only eyes I have ever seen.
Bedroom door shut, you hope
you can build a barrier brave enough
to entrap the metaphors about everyone and everything
that lies beyond these walls.
But the shadows under the line of the door
push your words
and your hand instead lands next
to a grocery list and a rant
about a bad day. So, you pen a bad
poem about a tree outside your window.
But your bad is still yours.
Where once there was nothing
now something lives.
A tree bent over,
or with broken branches
or even one that crashes into
a neighboring home
is still a tree.
The wooden bookshelf where you keep every
novel your hand has touched in the last two decades
is proof that nothing
that once was
can ever truly be unwritten.
Do you remember
my many predecessors?
Your tiny hands clutching them tight,
the instinct to write
even at eight years old
in a pink bedroom lined
with fairy wallpaper.
When you really get going,
when your shoulders ache
from the speed at which you try
to get the words down as fast
as they fly into your mind
because they are a train on full speed
with the break gear shot
and ahead is the only option
and the emotions fall out with them,
afterwards I see
the breath of relief leave your body.
Your muscles relax
and you leave a little bit lighter
as if the words can carry you
like the waves can carry a seashell
across the turbulent ocean.
I see the need
in the way your heart hides
I know the discrepancy between
what the world
knows of you
and what you disclose to me.
The discrepancy between what you think
you know about yourself and the truths
you discover between my lines.
Everyone needs a place
to be themselves
Let these pages
be a soft pillow after a long day,
or the bite that sucks out the venom,
the warmth of a mother's hand,
the force of a fist into a punching bag.
Let me be your landing dock,
your lighthouse beacon,
for your heart's safe passage onto the page.
As your lead charges at the page
with a roar of both defeat and victory,
I see it all.
Now let yourself feel it all,
even all your bad,
without imagining that you’ve diluted
all your good.
It’s all there.
If you’d only read yourself
between and beyond
You are not a shocking TMZ headline,
eight words or less
of the worst of you
being all of you.
You are not even a poem,
or a novel,
or an encyclopedia series.
You are a whole goddamn language.
You are everything that has ever been written
and ever will be written.
You are all of it
all at once,
a never-ending library.
And my god, how I wish you’d spend all day
exploring each aisle,
skipping the catalogue cards
and cliff notes abbreviations,
diving into the glorious
smell of old paper and ink
and experience the joy
of learning to read you.
Caroline K. Martell is a writer from Massachusetts who teaches high school English. She holds a B.A. in English, as well as minors in Sociology and Gender & Sexuality Studies, and an M.Ed. in Education focused in Moderate Disabilities. She reads, writes, and adores poetry for its simultaneous ability to uncover and heal the intimately personal, as well as comment on the larger world and inspire social change.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.