Meghan O'Rourke

Appeal to the Self

Have the dowagers of delusion visited you again
in their fat pink shoes, creeping softly over the Persian rugs
of your creaking boarded mind?
It’s time to get up and air the room.
Once you were an explorer, now you are Elizabeth Barrett,
only stupider and more prone to TV-watching.
Outside, cell phones buzz like digital cicadas,
and the air green, green. But you have come up here
to rave inside the tower you call a brain.
You might as well be daubed
in mud and growing feathers. No one will ever notice
the difference between what you say and what you mean.
What you lost, as a teenager in America,
schooled to be ambitious,
is what everybody else lost, the boy
who first screwed you on a rug some way
you can’t quite remember. Who are you to mourn it?
There’s the rub: the plain old human emotions
have become “clichéd.”
But they still exist. That boy
Is an actor now, proclaiming grief for art and money.
The losses are yours to embrace.
So come sing with me and be my love,
there is no one else but you, the voices in my head.


"Appeal to the Self" first appeared in The Kenyon Review.