She is a small woman
dressed in white, save for black
platform slingback pumps
and cherry red eyeglass frames.
She hunches forward in her seat
seeming as though she might collapse,
pouring over tables and graphs –
biochemical research papers.
You measure the depth of her attention
by the frequency with which she  pulls
single strands of hair from her banded ponytail,
strokes them gently, then, as if noticing they
have gone astray, tries to tuck them back in.
She pauses this ritual only to annotate
the paper’s margins in mechanical pencil
in a small, cramped hand, barely legible.
You know she has reached the paper’s conclusion
when she strokes that soft space
between those in upper lip
as though a teenage boy hoping
one day soon to grow a mustache.


My shelves grow heavy
with volumes of words
I wish I had written, neatly
bound up in books
that stare at me, at once
bidding me welcome
and challenging me to enter.
One shelf is set aside
for books of pages,
blank, on which I have written
each day now for three
and a half years, words
I did write which, on rereading,
I often wish I hadn’t.
I could write in pencil
erase later in the face of regret,
but the pen seals failure
and, I am sure, helps build
character, which I have in excess



Take the pencil in hand
and grasp it firmly and flex
and extend your wrist until loose.
On a clean sheet of paper
mark a small X which will become
of great importance shortly.
Look around you in all directions,
starting as close to yourself
as possible and expanding out
as far as the eye can see,
noting the relative position
of things that you see which
might serve as points of reference.
Now imagine you are looking
down on this scene from high above,
and draw what your eyes have seen.
Once this is done, carefully
write next to the X you have made,
“I am here,” and then do not
move lest your work was in vain.