scott wyatt
Dear Diary
by Anu Mahadev

Lunch boxes, water bottles, scarves, shoes.
None would show up after I’d “misplaced” them.

Isn’t it Murphy’s law that you find something
when you’re looking for something else?

There’s the attic, the old cupboard
with stacks of saris. My mother’s house.

I cut my finger, cleaning, rummaging through
the shelves for my old wedding invitations.

That’s when I find it. My forgotten diary.

It smells of warped wood and mothballs
and pine oil and used cinnamon spice.

Brown leather-bound, embossed with a
symbol I don’t recognize anymore,

its pages a deep ochre yellow, stained from
many a tearful night, writing my heart out.

I cringe as I open it, unsure of its secrets.
Most of the words are splotched, leaving

behind a blurry wall of illegible graffiti.
Covered in rhymes and sonnets — my early stint

as a poet, unwrapped. My views on life, as a
know-it-all teenager, and how everything seemed
like it was the end of the world.

It still hurts, the look in his latent summer eyes.

I’d played FLAMES randomly with his name and mine,
and doctored it so it would always end in Love.

I’d practiced my future signature with our initials together.

Those were the days I was drawn to him — a moth
to a citronella candle, and couldn’t read the invisible

ink between the lines. Why is it that this sepia-toned
unrequited love — no more than a gigantic crush —

felt like I still had something to prove?
I could keep going, spelunking through the depths

of the darkness for more, but I am jolted back
to the present by a mosquito bite. The diary is no longer

a long-lost companion. It feels like a feudal lord, and I its slave.
I toss it into the trash. Some dreams shouldn’t be recycled.

IMAGE: “A Soldier’s Recollection” by Scott Wyatt. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I grew up in India, and have lived in the U.S. for 21 years. But there is a part of me that perhaps never left home, and whenever I do go back to visit, I’m always looking at old photo albums, old books, anything that I can find to remind me of my childhood and growing up years. That first layer of hurt remains fresh no matter how many life experiences I’ve added in all the years since. So while I was glad to find this diary, and then wondered who else had read it, I was also shocked that it still existed. I wanted to believe that disposing of it would remove those years from my life, and I dismissed the events without a second thought. Yet here I am, writing a poem about it.

anu_mABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anu Mahadev is a New Jersey based poet and a recent graduate of the MFA in Poetry program at Drew University. She is part time editor for the Woman Inc. online and Jaggery Lit. online. Her poems have appeared in the  anthologies Colors of Refuge and Reinventing Myths, as well as in the journals The Olentangy Review and The Wild Word.