I don’t remember how the last line of this poem goes,
But the end cannot find us if we never begin.
Written from the same hand,
You and I are living stories of a different kind,
Each day offering life to stain a white page,
breathings from our heart to move beyond the start.

And I’ve got a little something left to live,
For the ink to dry a line at a time.

I’m folding down the corners of the memories that burned and meant the most.
Like losing her at the end chapter 2 and stumbling upon solace in the midst of the thunder storms I tried to undo.

I’ve underlined stories to go back and read,
Crossed out what I can’t erase,
Found your polaroid tucked between chapters 7 and 8.

It’s the words that paint the picture as proof, bringing me back to spring in the south,
Outside her brick house
Where the wild flowers stretched north,
Blooming without a doubt like we did at the end of chapter 9.

It’s all been written down with swords and pens,
Blood and ink
reminding us of the narratives of how we used to act and think.

Living, like writing, drives us home,
Leading us down roads of mile marker memories and cable line collections.
We’re all a constant work in progress, stuck under construction, slowing to another detour never planned.

Foot on the gas, it reminds me of the past -
of what was,
of who I’ve become.

I drive to keep from becoming numb,
Like writing, it’s how I deal with how I feel.

Pen stained palms,
Hands on the wheel,
I’m checking my rearview mirror once more, wondering what it’d be like to rewrite chapters three and four.  
If I had made a right where I went left, would I be left feeling like everything is right?
The quiet things no one knows are trapped in chapter five,
and I’ve torn out those six senseless pages so many times I’ve got papercut battle scars and new memories on both hands.

But i won’t ever forget how good it felt to scribble down chapter ten,
And I can’t help but think it wouldn’t feel this way if it wasn’t for way back when -
Back when I was writing with faded ink from a chewed up pen,
Misspelling with passion, living inside present time instead of tracing over what’s been.

It’s the chapters we can’t erase ... and the ones we want to frame,
The days you tried to keep up and the ones that let you down.  
It’s the silent moments no one will ever hear,
And the days your lungs shout to disappear.

It’s about learning how to come alive when you’re bored to death,
And how to write in a comma when you need to catch your breath.
Having written through the rain and fear, it’s all becoming more clear.
Living isn’t about the last line, but continuing to write the story to the end.

We’re all living notes from the past,

Sliding smiles and secrets beneath the surface
Hoping our story will last,
Passing questions and confessions with looks and glances
For our lives to be read again by future writers and poets,
To be known beyond what we understand.

Write it well, let the ink of each piece dry in peace.
Scribble in grace where the darkness seeks a turn.
Re-write hope, etch in forgiveness, and
Replace hate with love.

Write it well, let the ink dry in peace.
For the end cannot find us if we never begin.

Tanner Olson