Posts Tagged ‘fiction’


Dear Other Version of Myself,


In my calendar, it’s April second

and you are going to an event tonight

at a bookstore in another town

where the people will gather

and hug each other and taste

each other’s wine. You live in a world

that no longer exists, and every day

I try to reconcile it—how you

had plans to go camping next weekend,

how you were going to go to the theater

with no mask, no gloves,

no sense of your body as a weapon.


Every day, your life, which once was my life,

seems increasingly impossible.

Every day, these two worlds are farther apart—

the one in which you were getting on a plane

to visit your mother

and the one in which I put on rubber gloves

to go to the post office box.

I remember how seldom you washed

your hands for fear that someone you love

would die. I remember what it was like

to hug my friends with no worry

of harming them, to go to a restaurant,

to plan for a day past tomorrow.









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I’m learning to write tension in my scenes,

to add desire, danger and distress,

to focus on what my character wants

and all the forces keeping her from getting

it—a train arrives too early to be caught,

she doesn’t get the job she wants,

she doesn’t have the funds to pay her rent,

she loses her cat in the city again—

I am trying to let bad things happen.

Otherwise there is no tension,

and, as the book on writing says,

No tension equals boring. Think

obstacle, it instructs. Think grief and

shame and fear. But all I want to do

is make my character cheerful,

happy, glad. I want to immediately fix

all the problems I won’t let her have.

I want to make her life easier—

give her security, friendship,

great sex, true love. Is it so wrong

to want to serve her everything

I want? Create opposition, says the book,

and I try, I do, to write in her weaknesses,

let her mess up, struggle on every page.

But oh, to make her life not just happily

ever after but happily all along the way,

perfect and boring, the kind of life

that no one has, the kind of life

that no one wants to read about,

the dream job offers streaming in, the lover

ever attentive, handsome, adoring,

the sun shining as she thoughtfully sips her tea.


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