"I've Never Written a Poem Before" by Irene M. Vallone
I’ve never written a poem before, and I’ve burned
all the notebooks that say otherwise. I’ve deleted
the Word files and Google Docs that imply
I was once a different person. I went before a judge
and had my poems annulled, locked
years of work in a courthouse closet.
I made myself forget the verses I’d stitched into my jeans,
painted foundation over the poems on my face,
grew the words out of my hair. I made my mother cry
when she learned I hated the poem she’d given me.
I shook my old self’s hand and pushed him into the heating grate.
We both nodded as he stared up at me, satisfied,
because we knew it meant I could write this poem.