The innermost, laid bare on sheets.
Most extreme and mundane dreams
counted and recounted like a president's

indiscretions, for whoever cares to hear.
Once, the effort appeared to be for no one,
or for some particular him or her

who'd guard both message and manner
from any public, however small. It was easy
to say the things you would never utter

in life. Now the persona trails the person
like a lover who won't accept it's over;
no matter how slight or yielding your form,

you can't get out of the tailored dress,
even at home, long after the party.
Nothing will ever be former or ex-

or fully forgotten. Once, you tried to be
the sort of woman whose life
was the event, not the scrutiny

given it afterwards. All those pages
into the trash - but still you couldn't act
without thinking. So here you are, engaged,

sworn, wedded, too late to change your mind,
to a contrivance you thought was like fiction,
a book you could walk away from anytime.

Adrienne Su, author of Middle Kingdom (Alice James, 1997), was the 2003 resident poet at The Frost Place in Franconia, NH. She has poems in the anthologies Asian-American Poetry: The Next Generation; Poetry Daily: 366 Poems from the World's Most Popular Poetry Website; and Poetry 30: Thirtysomething American Thirtysomething Poets. She teaches at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.