A World Drawn in Pencil

by The Cowl Editor on April 8, 2022


by Caitlin Bartley ’24

pencil drawings of hands with pencils
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

I like to imagine that the world was drawn in pencil,

my body an illustration on a canvas.

Just think of all the things I could fix,

stretch marks on my thighs

erased like crooked lines on geometry homework,

coffee stains on my teeth

erased like dirty smudges on clean parchment.

I could sketch contours on my cheeks,

curves on my hips,

life in my eyes.

I like to imagine that the world was drawn in pencil,

my thoughts a rough draft of prose.

Just think of all the things I could fix,

foolish love notes and empty promises

that I’ve written in pen.

I cross out the words a thousand times

but they don’t budge,

mistakes stained on paper like sins on a soul,

names etched into diaries like runes on an ancient tomb.

If they were written with pencil,

I could scrub at the page with an eraser until it was rubbed raw,

leaving nothing behind but a blank sheet

and the ghost of a confession.

If the world was drawn in pencil,

I could rearrange the planets,

realign the stars,

rewrite fate.

I could create constellations,

conquer astrology,

devise a personal game of connect-the-dots.

I could master the universe,

the celestial bodies once crafted by the hands of gods

now at the disposal of my fingertips.

There’s a painting in a museum called The World,

billions of people pass it every day.

I join them and watch from afar

behind a rope of velvet that feels more like steel,

pencil in my pocket,


I listen to art connoisseurs whisper about

brushstrokes and color palettes,

what they might mean.

I don’t know what to think.

I stand in front of the painting until the museum closes,

wishing the world was drawn in pencil.

There is so much I want to fix.