Spiral-bound Woman

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.
— Joan Didion

I’m sitting at my oak table, one I use as a desk. I am glancing up, now and then, at the bookcase next to the door. I can’t keep my eyes away.

On the second shelf, there’s a red notebook. It’s blank. I know, because I bought it myself, not too long ago, at a shop on the high street. It was cheap, probably not more than a pound.

I am typing these words, but it just takes a half thought to imagine the feel of the virgin paper under my fingertips, the feel of the ballpoint tip as it presses into the recycled, pulpy flesh.

I look at that blank, waiting notebook, my palms itching, but patient.

I believe I know, slightly, what it is to be a man who craves women.

It is easy to fill it up, the notebook. I’ve done it with many. I’ve torn them apart, ripped out their guts, left them alone to decompose in dark places, cardboard boxes in crawlspaces. I’ve skulked badly-lit aisles for the next one, breath quickening. Open them up, peeling back the covers, peeping inside to see what there is to offer. Investing in one, money, ink, time. Tears.

But not quite happy with the result. Unsure, afraid to expose myself. I close the cover again and put it aside. I caress the cover, tuck it away, first in the bottom of my knapsack. Then, on the corner of the desk, under a stack of papers. Later, onto the bookshelf. Then finally, into the box, into the hole in the floor.

Time to move on.

I hide my failures. I don’t want to revisit them, to fix them. Man doesn’t want to be friends with his mistakes. But, oh, did I love them once.

Remember all the times in Barnes & Noble, I spent gazing at you, lusting and teasing? Walking by, stroking you, picking you up and taking you home, finally?

Remember? I took you to Italy! We got lost on a train between Rome and Florence. Together we carried secrets in English, all the way from Sicily to Soprabolzano, up the Dolomites nella funivia… Remember the afternoons in the piazzas?

Remember the dark night in the jazz club, that corner table where we huddled together, listening to blue music and exchanging ideas? I drank too much. You showed me that.

Remember how I clasped you to my breast and told you everything?

I am looking at the black metal spiral. I want to touch it, feel its coldness. I’ll stroke it and make it warm. Shoved between books on the shelf, its pages are closed and secretive. I want to crack it, to set it free.

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.
— Joan Didion

Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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  1 comment for “Spiral-bound Woman

  1. Anonymous
    February 3, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    Beautiful writing! While you’re working on the greatest novel of our times, you should submit to poetry journals, too.
    I always think of you when I see spiral-bound notebooks. I assume the ones we used at the party are long since gone, but that was a fun game (booger jokes aside). –LB in KC

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