Marginalia

Finding an old book on a basement shelf—
gray, spine bent—and reading it again,
I met my former, unfamiliar, self,
some of her notes and scrawls so alien

that, though I tried, I couldn’t get (behind
this gloss or that) back to the time she wrote
to guess what experiences she had in mind,
the living context of some scribbled note;

or see the girl beneath the purple ink
who chose this phrase or that to underline,
the mood, the boy, that lay behind her thinking—
but they were thoughts I recognized as mine;

and though there were words I couldn’t even read,
blobs and cross-outs; and though not a jot
remained of her old existence—I agreed
with the young annotator’s every thought:

A clever girl. So what would she see fit
to comment on—and what would she have to say
about the years that she and I have written
since—before we put the book away?

Deborah Warren