Letters Should Be Written

Morning Curtains

Morning Curtains

19 September 2013
12:12 pm

Edinburgh

T. —

Another of my Paper creations. I’ve only had time to sketch them quickly, but I would really like more opportunities to sit for a while and draw what I see.

*

The daily is a universe that matters and is often ignored.

– Laynie Browne, The Desire of Letters

*

So, yeah… this is basically my thesis: Learning the Epistolary Poem. Check the date. August 2013. I am simultaneously 1) amazed at my good fortune that these sources keep turning up the further into the PhD I get, and 2) slightly jealous that more people are talking about this before I can get my ideas in first. I don’t want my research to just be an accumulation of these new discussions. I was getting really excited that there didn’t seem to be many discussions happening about letters and prose poems. But now they’re bubbling up. And I know I’m among them, but what does that mean for me?

*

The Weight of Oranges
Anne Michaels

My cup’s the same sand colour as bread.
Rain’s the same colour of a building across the street,
its torn red dahlias
and ruined a book propped on the sill.

Rain articulates the skins of everything,
pink of bricks from the fire they baked in,
lizard green leaves,
the wrinkled tongues of pine cones.
It’s accurate the way we never are,
bringing out what’s best
without changing a thing.
Rain that makes beds damp,
our room a cave in the morning,
a tent in late afternoon,
ignites the sound of leaves we miss all winter.
The sound that pulled us to bed…
caught in the undertow of wind in wet leaves.

I’m writing in the sound we woke to,
curtains breathing into a half-dark room.

I’m up early now, walking.
Remember our walks, horizons like lips
barely red at dawn,
how kind the distance seemed?
Letters should be written to send news, to say
send me news, to say
meet me at the train station.
Not these dry tears, to honour us like a tomb.
I’m ashamed of our separation.
I wake in the middle of the night and see “shame”
written in the air like a Bible story.
I dreamed my skin was tattooed,
covered with the words that put me here,
covered in sores, in quarantine—and you know what?
I was afraid to light the lamp and look.

Your husband’s a good builder—I burned
every house we had,
with a few words to start the flames.
Words of wood,
they had no power of their own.
“The important” gave them meaning
and humble with gratitude
they exploded in my face.

Now we’re like planets, holding to each other
from a great distance. When we lay down
oceans flexed their green muscles,
life got busy in the other hemisphere,
the globe tilted, bowing to our power!
Now we’re hundreds of miles apart,
our short arms keep us lonely,
no one hears what’s in my head.
I look old. I’m losing my hair.
Where does lost hair go in this world,
lost eyesight, teeth?
We grow old like rivers, get shrunk and doubled over
until we can’t find the mouth of anything.

It’s March, even the birds
don’t know what to do with themselves.

Sometimes I’m certain those who are happy
know one thing more than us… or one thing less.
The only book I’d write again
is our bodies closing together.
That’s the language that stuns,
scars, breathes into you.
Naked, we had voices!

I want you to promise
we’ll see each other again,
you’ll send a letter.
Promise we’ll be lost together
in our forest, pale birches of our legs.

I hear your voice now—I know,
everyone knows promises come from fear.
People don’t live past each other,
you’re always here with me. Sometimes
I pretend you’re in the other room
until it rains… and then
this is the letter I always write:
The letter I write
when they’re keeping me from home.
I smell your supper steaming in the kitchen.
There are paper bags on the table
with their bottoms melted out
by rain and the weight of oranges.

*

Good morning,
M

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