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The Best Eraser in The World

The Best Eraser in the World, a poem for my good friend Tiezheng Song in memory of our good times in Dr. Thurman’s 701 class.

The Best Eraser in the World

She comes without warning and with no intention of staying. The idea.

Grab a piece of paper and that mechanical pencil, the best mechanical pencil in the world. Your fingertip quickly recognizes the familiar surface. Touch the tip; the lead is just right.

The feel of paper under your hand, comforting; so clean and supportive. Remember how encouraging blank pages are: untouched, pure, there is everything to do—your thing to do.

Time for an intellectual dive.

Hand, pencil and paper become one. Your trace is furious, aggressive; ballistic. The sound of grazing is accelerating: it fuels you with adrenaline and takes you deeper into that trance you love.

Muscles tighten. Your muscles tighten. Temperature rises.

You are quick, unstoppable, fierce; decisive. Incisive, assertive, confident. Severe.

Then, pause.


Sketch a few lines on the margin. Your handwriting is smaller and more timid. Pressing softly against the paper you slow down the writing until coming to full stop. Drop the perfect mechanical pencil. Think.

Close your eyes. You close your eyes. Question your intuition. Spit some air and swallow a few words. Mumble that mantra you’ve taught yourself to believe many times. Keep calm. You keep calm.

She’s not good. The idea.

Grab that eraser, the best eraser in the world. Leave no marks, no records of sketching or scratching or doubting; no evidence of double thinking, mixed feelings, opened endings, circular thinking; irrelevant ideas, arrows that point to nowhere, unreadable comments, vacuous truths, tautological statements. You leave no signs of anger or frustration or confusion or randomness. It’s gone.

The best eraser in the world: you don’t destroy, deny or forget what you’ve cleaned out. You let it go, a friendly good bye. A hunch, hope, some effort, a small trip. No regrets.