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self, at seventeen

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I am
I am a line. A definite beginning and an uncertain end
I am not straight by many definitions; I curve, weave, falter
I am pale violet; thin watered-down blue with drops of vivid red
flecked in, mixed well.

I am
I am the number seventeen—--infinite promise, naiveté, foolishness
Endless capacity to love and hope and hurt and fear--—
This is where I am, so it is also who I am
I am a fall leaf tossed by, flailing in
the wind. Just another ceaseless wanderer.

I am
A hastily put together goody bag
At a child’'s birthday party, a
Disordered exercise in gratification and obligation.
I am a seagull. I am a door
You could open me into many different rooms
If you found my handle. I am cocktail shrimp.
I am a secondhand Volkswagen Beetle in a dusty garage
I am the song “Eleanor Rigby,” because we are the things we love
I am a piano, because we are the things that conquer us
And thirteen years old, I let ivory keys, a lack of rhythmic ease
A teacher who scratched his crotch, spit when he talked
Defeat me and my imagined potential, my then-palpable sense of
Infinity.

I am
I am hiding behind my eyes
A single word. It is round and hollow
You cannot see it unless
You know what to look for
The word is loss.
I have lost things, many things
I say this without self-pity
I knew then and now it is and was
Inevitable.
Yet I dwell still on what I no longer have
Concocting foolish rituals, always looking back.
I am a magpie
Hoarder of loves and letters, of ordinary objects
I love the trivial and the tawdry, when
they have stories behind them
Because when all else fails, when all is lost
and all will be-eventually—
I am able to set the past down in words
I am secure in my last defense, my secret bunker of
Memory and Ink.

Because you see, when later-eyes read my before-words
And see their lives and mine mirrored in those inked edifices
It will be like I am, even when I am no longer
And I will be, where I once was
And people will still find new rooms through me and feel
Almost as if
I am.





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