National Poetry Month Day 2: “At the Book Shrink” by Brenda Shaughnessy


Welcome to The Rumpus’s National Poetry Month project. We’ll be running a new poem from a different poet each day for the month of April.

At the Book Shrink

one learns to say “my body uses me
as a grape uses wine–”

to talk about inevitability,
the essence of plot.

But what happens when a person
understands she is being sent

back, glass by glass,
to the invisible pouring stations

of the larger narrative?
That she is merely like or likely

a person in a book?
Like a salt water balloon

sinking in the ocean.
Like a person in a book, like

I said already. Someone’s
not listening. Someone’s

eating breakfast or falling
asleep or texting a married lover

as shrinks are wont to do.
If I am boring then at least

I am getting somewhere:
through the wood I knock on.

My story is telling.
But it’s not telling me.

I need help getting to the next part.
When I open my mouth,

liquid rushes in, endrunkening.
When I close it,

dark, secret-looking drops spill
crimson on the page.

Brenda Shaughnessy

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →