Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Virginia's Journal

is encased behind glass at the British Library
and they have opened it to this page of self-assurance
where she writes that it is now, with the book that will
become Mrs. Dalloway
that she finally found the arc, the water line,
the place where she stops worrying about what other
people think of her writing,

not her sister
nor her husband.

She writes that she has truly found her voice.
And I wonder, my hands pressed against the cool
glass of the Treasury Room,
such a perfect name,
how long did that last Virginia?

How long did the belief nestle in your hollow bird bones,
before it flew away from you. Because you put it on paper
we can believe it was forever, but it wasn't, was it?
The next day was much worse.

New York has your cane, Virginia,
the one you left bank side when you walked into the water.
It is owned by a city you didn't consider
in a country you didn't plan to visit.

This is what they do, this dissecting.
You should have taken it all with you, Virginia.
Tied your journals to your back for weight,
tucked that cane under your arm, a pocket watch that will stop.
All those carefully chosen words, like petals,
inked on onion-skin paper will float like lily pads.
You should have sailed off by that northern star
and left them all wondering,
Why, where is Virginia? She is awfully late for tea.

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