Back when you were innocent—back when you played the clown,
before your mind was jaded by seeking wide renown,
back before the pomp, the glory and the plaudits,
back before the news reports, the surveys and the audits,
back there when a diary preceded post and tweet,
there were words of innocence, secretive and sweet.
Back when every aspect of life was not for show,
back when information tended to move slow,
was there more than one hushed aspect of your life,
secrets not used against you, as lethal as a knife?
Everything’s now out there in selfies and YouTubes—
your angsts and loves and conquests, not to mention boobs.
What is left to grow inside, to flourish and to bloom?
What secrets left confined to the safety of your room?
Everything’s out spinning in the cruel world.
No way to get it back again, no secret ever curled
safely under the covers of a private book
where even your best friend has never had a look.
Do they still make diaries that aren’t electronic
where words languish on pages, quiet and laconic?
Where little girls confide their thoughts to a much-smudged page,
all their secret passions, their hurts and hopes and rage?
“Dear Diary” the sweetest confidant of all?
One that will never tell on you. One always there on call.
What will happen in a world where everything’s on view
forever to be classified, forever part of you?
Never will we ever leave our pasts behind.
Everything is indexed, simple enough to find.
Your sons and your daughters will peek into your past.
Google yourself now. Won’t they just have a blast?
I just stumbled upon my old diary from age eleven through thirteen yesterday. What a revelation. Facts garnered: I had someone sleep over at least three times a week, lots of relatives passed through one summer, my best friend went home mad a lot, I called lunch dinner and did the dishes every day, woke up late whenever I could and never revealed the names of secret crushes, even in my diary. I had a “dreamy” boy-girl party the year I turned 13 (a feat never repeated, at least among my friends) and danced with every boy except J (yuck.) Mr. G didn’t like me anymore (perhaps) and we seemed to take a lot of trips down to the Frosty Freeze at night––probably because other kids did the same and we had no other place to gather. Nothing, however, to preclude my running for public office and all easily burned if there were. And that simple event and the thoughts thereafter led to this poem.