In between the bindings of every
empty notebook lives a sweet snippet
Paused, poised and balancing,
in the stoic arms of plastic and cardboard
is, like the bottomless, unexplored ocean,
or the great expanses of enormous outer space,
a realm of possibilities.
Pristine is the parchment of
lovely, lonely notebooks waiting to solve
some strangers’ lament.
Upon that parchment
anything could be crafted.
Resplendent passages of other, imagined worlds,
Equations or calculations,
The adventures of pirates among the stars,
or goblins who live at the bottom of a well,
a murder by defenestration,
or a concoction of witches’ spells…
The waiting pages of a blank notebook are
Unharmed by my own clumsy fingers,
influenced by the Poor Grammar Gods
who spite my syntax but give me the good
graces to realise only after the fact.
My poor handwriting,
My missed letters, and inverted ‘g’s, and backwards ‘E’s…
Every time I’ve seen the blotch form,
Noticed the hamartia of my own hand,
Wobbled, bumped the ruler,
Dripped the ink,
The likely hood of creating something
Like pressed petals falling from those pages,
The possibility of perfection
And my immediate instinct has always been
I have ripped out page after page
because a small, simple error
reveals much too much.
I poise my pen above the perfect
and always feel as if I am ruining it.
A blemish blooms, and
that harsh damning word rises up
and lands and splatters and splays across
the paper, and
it becomes the only thing
A filled page is a page
That can be critiqued;
A filled page
Is a messy one;
A filled page
can be wrong.
And I have learned how terribly easy
It is to pick and rip and throw in the bin
Tear apart, to yell: ‘I need
I have innumerably slaughtered
My own happinesses with
The boundless need to be
Like that blank page:
In the pursuit of perfect,
I have taught myself
To seek a new notebook,
Rather than accept the one
I have already written upon.
And so here we are
Of poor, forgotten creatures
Who once yearned to be filled with magic
And momentous creations…
Forsaken and abandoned
In the war
But perfectionism—I am coming to realise—
is less the pursuit of boundless excellence,
Or the display of our resilience,
the waltz of the
Meticulous and tough.
Perfectionism is the manifestation of the
that we may never actually
ever be good enough.
With every new notebook,
Every spelling mistake,
And skipped word,
And smear of chocolate,
And drip of tea,
I’m slowly learning to
in letting things be.
When I want to pick at the scrawl before me—
The Cat’s Cradle of looping, loose
Letters and human error—
I now, instead,
Let myself breath.
For where could there be beauty,
where there is only empty?
An empty notebook, is a notebook
for what ever it is
it is going to be.
And now I know that empty,
Does not mean ‘perfect’,
‘Absence’ is not the way that hope looks.
There is no joy in empty notebooks.