Once, you loved permanence,
Indelible. You’d sink
Your thoughts in a black well,
And called the error ink.

And then you crossed it out;
You canceled as you went.
But you craved permanence,
And honored the intent.

Perfection was a blot
That could not be undone.
You honored what was not,
And it was legion.

And you were sure, so sure,
But now you cannot stay sure.
You turn the point around
And honor the erasure.

Rubber stubs the page,
The heart, a stiletto of lead,
And all that was black and white
Is in-between instead.

All scratch, all sketch, all note,
All tentative, all tensile
Line that is not broken,
But pauses with the pencil,

And all choice, multiple,
The quiz that gives no quarter,
And Time the other implement
That sharpens and grows shorter.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.