ANCIENT GRAFFITI

 

Our first alphabet scratched by copper miners
in a quarry in Edom: God, get me out of here.

As if uttering aloud was forbidden or committing
to stone or dirt, anything more visceral than air,

had better chance of being granted. Who was here
in AD 11? In fifth grade, Becky Brown carved

“Gary” into the left side of her chest with a pen
knife, though the boy spelled his name with two Rs.

Where else did she mark the world? Or the teen
who left his initials and the date a few feet from

the world’s oldest drawing of a pregnant buffalo
or whoever drew the buffalo first? As a child,

I scrawled I hate daddy on closet walls when sent
for punishment, and countless times I’ve written—

on notebooks, in wet sand—that I <3 many boys.
Should you find yourself with a Sharpie someplace

with unadorned rock, a smooth panel of painted steel
or sanded wood railing, you might find it irresistible

to not write something. A lack of space or time
might lead you to resort to your name or initials

because they’re less conspicuous and more revealing.
If you stumbled into a Mecca of such graffiti on subway

platform or women’s restroom you might stop to read
the seemingly unconnected moments bound by this one

place: where the “Drunkards of Macri” won their third
brick-dressing tourney, two lovers met, and another A.E.

was twice, ten years apart. Does the space suddenly feel
a little holy or maybe it’s always felt like that?

Who can resist signing the guest book, so the hosts,
whomever they are, know we were here? In the end,

no small good deed, no “she had the best hair.” When the teen
can’t leave his name anywhere. When a person’s only

a memory, we dig up every note. No other record
of that day on the rock face. A woman heavy with or longing

for child, a man waiting for harvest. Simple lines. A whole
scene. Someone with sun at his back, etching striated stone.

 

 

 

Emari DiGiorgio is a recipient of two Vermont Studio Center Residencies, a Sundress Academy of the Arts Residency, a Rivendell Artist Colony Percy Writers Fellowship, and a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Poetry Fellowship. Poems are forthcoming in HEArt, Jet Fuel Review, and White Stag. She teaches writing at Stockton University and is a visiting Poet-in-the-Schools through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Dodge Foundation.

 

 

 

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