I wonder what people in my life think when I send them long, rambling letters. I write them when I am entirely out of sorts, but I write them when the cusp is full, too. I rarely get many replies, at least, not as much as I would like to have in return—another voice in the dark whispering back, so as to remind me I am not alone.
I wonder if I write letters because I am alone. I wonder if I write this—all of this—because I want to extend my hand in front of me, hoping the tips of my fingers will touch you all the way there. Because—well, whatever for, yes?
Also, the false positives, like I’m so sure I’m doing a lot of shit wrong, that there’s a presence of wrongness somewhere here, I write in one letter. And then: questions upon questions upon questions.
A. writes back: Being loved doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be happy. I could feel S.’s smile at the corner of his mouth when he says, Lovely to hear from you, but your timing is crap.
R. tells me: Remember in your desire and doubt what you actually care about. I feel pretty clear about what matters, but I forget, then remind myself, then forget.
I keep writing. Each day I try to remember what I can be thankful for: the next day arriving, myself checking to see that I’m still here.
Thank you whoever tuned the radio
to rain, thank you who spilled
the strong-willed wine for not
being me so I’m not to blame. I’m glad
I’m not that broken tree although
it looks sublime. And glad I’m not
taking a test and running out of time.
What’s a tetrahedron anyway? What’s
the sublime, 3,483 divided by 9,
the tenth amendment, the ferryman’s name
on the River Styx? We’re all missing
more and more tricks, losing our grips,
guilty of crimes we didn’t commit.
The horse rears and races then moves no more,
the sports coupe grinds to a stop, beginning
a new life as rot, beaten to shit. Whitman
grass stain, consciousness swamp gas,
the bones and brain, protoplasm and liver,
ground down like stones in a river. Or does
the heart’s cinder wash up as delta froth
out of which hops frog spawn, dog song,
the next rhyming grind, next kid literati?
Maybe the world’s just a bubble, all
philosophy ants in a muddle,
an engine inside an elk’s skull on a pole.
Maybe an angel’s long overdue and we’re
all in trouble. Meanwhile thanks whoever
for the dial turned to green downpour, thanks
for feathery conniptions at the seashore
and moth-minded, match-flash breath.
Thank you for whatever’s left.
This is from Poetry, Volume 199 Number 5, published by the Poetry Foundation, February 2012.