I bought Anais Nin’s unexpurgated diaries
for ten dollars, second-hand
To read my way out of the first man
I thought I loved.
For two months, the copy sat on my bedside,
Untouched, and eyewitness to
The rotating mugs
And potted orchids
And vitamin tubes
While I fucked the heartbreak out of my system
Trying to work out if I was the bullet
or the exit wound.
complete and containing
all the original material;
The first girl has salt-eyes and breaks quickly
Like a word forgets its own meaning.
We lie in bed after, our bodies
A knot of pleasure in the February heat.
The second is the friend of a friend
Pushes me against the marble kitchen counter at my party
Like she is showing me the altar
And in the morning asks if I want to do it again
As we scrub the birthdayparty from the bathroom tiles.
Turning twenty, or sleeping together? I ask
An Ajax spray in one hand, a nervous smile on my lips
She laughs, the empty bottles clinking under her arm;
Neither. She says. Both.
In the diaries I have not yet read,
Nin asks When does real love begin?
The problem is
I like all the men
But not enough.
And I like all the women
But not enough.
Secretly, I wonder if this makes me
A fraud bisexual
A copy of a person that is missing original material.
Un-ex-pur-gated means complete
But if a person is not a sentence that starts with ‘I’
And memory not a tape that begins at zero
Who can assume that the complete self exists?
Who can assume we do not look for a piece of ourselves in every
body that we meet
And when we find it,
Call it ‘love’?
Like a trail of breadcrumbs leading to
You, the real you
A fantasy of wholeness.
Now, it is early winter.
In the suburbs, ginkgo leaves stain the concrete yellow
And the sky reflects them at sunset.
I am alone in my bedroom;
Love has stepped out to the garden to smoke a cigarette
So I pick up Nin’s diaries from my bedside table.
I peel open the pages that have stuck together
From the months of summer heat
And I read,
Trying to feel whole again.