Sappho in Her Study

February 26, 2019

The files in the filing cabinet
Are all talking at once.
Mumble jumble, say the files
In the filing cabinet.

The desk, discreet,
Discloses nothing.

Rough drafts live
A roustabout life,
Tumbling from shelves,

While books, published
and smugly replete,
No longer feel the need
To compete.

Stationery sprawls,
Casual as sunbathers.

In the locked drawer,
Love letters lie.

Kelly Cherry

Should somebody penetrate the barbed-wire entanglement of my handwriting and read my Roughs , it would make little sense to him. He would find bewildering changes of time and place. The people would confound him with sudden new characteristics. Some would change their looks. Some would be whisked away without explanation. Some would put in a late appearance, yet be greeted by the rest as though they had been there from the beginning. He would find, this reader, traces of style followed by no style at all; pedestrian phrases, clichés, straight flat-footed reporting. Here a whole sequence of scenes complete and next some mingy skeleton stuff with a burst of apparently contemptuous hieroglyphs on the blank left-hand page beside it. Nor is the left-hand page reserved for “Exp” (meaning Expand, “X” (meaning Wrong), “//” (meaning much the same as “X” only more so) and “?” (meaning what it says). The left-hand page is likely to be a shambles, taking afterthought insertions for the right-hand page; paragraphs whose position may not be indicated at all. No; a reader would have no more fun with the Rough than the writer is having.

Pamela Frankau
Pen to Paper