Anais Nin

Diaries, love, heartbreak.

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.

Un-ex-pur-gated (noun) 

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 traitor 

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.