" your safe and find ashes." 
                                                  ~ Annie Dillard

Here are these beautiful, unmarked
journal pages of a life, your life: bound 

vellum, lined or unlined; papers pressed 
on a hot cylinder to weave the fibers tight 

and make a smooth, fine surface. Here
you could do a daily commentary, digest

of ordinary skies from sunup to sundown,
hours into which you scratch the minutiae 

of rising and working, eating and walking, 
shitting and showering; kissing or slapping, 

crying, laughing, hiding; sleeping or not 
sleeping as rain lashes the roof or bombs

explode in a different part of the city. What 
does it mean, what does anything mean; and

is it worth more dressed in nouns and verbs 
than in adjectives and adverbs; rendered in ink 

or graphite? A famous novelist said, if you must 
travel by plane, take two pencils because pens 

leak; you'll have a spare. Lead is that soft, roasted 
mix of clay and pure carbon which, in another atomic 

configuration, yields the hardness of diamonds. 
Is a moment documented more real than one 

which has left no trace except as a flicker in the marsh 
of memory? Trees fall in the forest, are struck down 

by lightning; logs enter a loader's knuckle boom 
where they're pulled through an array of knives, 

stripping them of branches and bark. A cloud of wings 
carries away any birds that nested in these groves. 

Audubon, who shot and killed every single one 
of the more than 700  specimens he painted, used 

watercolors and pastels, pencil, pen and ink to capture 
the likenesses of bittern and sparrow, finch, barn owl 

and warbler. There they glow: black-throated, fork-tailed, 
spotted. Vulture and hermit, lesser tern, and house wren.

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