GETTING THE LETTER RIGHT
I have never learned
how to fold your letters up
the way you do to make them fit
in their envelopes right,
so I fold them up all wrong,
put them in a shoebox,
and throw the envelopes away.
And I never get your letters right.
There is always a word or two
I can’t quite make out. Invariably,
it’s a key word, because
I always miss your point,
get balled up and can’t write right.
Your letters are like tents—voluminous,
deep, and dark, and I was
always pitching them in the dark
or the bronze light of a half-hidden moon,
getting the ropes fouled up, the stakes
in too near or out too far or
Heaven knows I’ve tried
to figure you out, to get at
whatever it is you’re getting at.
And this time I think I have,
this time I hear
the howling wolves of your brain,
and everything is clear—too clear,
like a drug-drunk night
beneath a moonlit aspen, each thought
flapping with the clarity of a double hinge.
And now that I have it, I realize
I threw the envelope out days ago.
I don’t know where to send this
ungodly pen and ink drawing.
We’re failing, and I’m afraid
you’ll never write again.
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Copyright © 2008 by Bradley Steffens
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