Posts Tagged ‘letter’

Perhaps three years ago
my son gave me three paper slips,
each one an IOU with his name and phone number
and the promise to do whatever I asked him to do.

I saved the slips in my bathroom drawer
where they mingled with hair ties
and toothpaste tubes,
until a month ago, when I wrote on one
in small blue cursive,
Please send a sign to your sister you love her.

And today, two months after his death,
a single postcard came, addressed to my daughter,
a postcard sent from Minnesota
but written in his hand.

It doesn’t say I love you. It’s a photo
of an old marketplace in Cusco,
a city he visited one week before he died.
He tells her about it, says it’s a place he enjoys.

And there, on the four-by-six cardstock,
unfurling between his handwritten words
is the unsaid message she seldom heard—

You’re important to me.
I love you. I miss you.
I’m grateful you’re in my life.

Consider this poem a thank you letter
addressed to what I can’t understand.
Thank you for finding a way to say
the words that couldn’t be said.
Thank you for letting an absence
tell a larger story. Thank you
for unusual postage.
For wonder. For special delivery.

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Some people say there’s nothing out there,
nothing but plains and the Platte and the sky.
A whole horizon of nothing,
and a barbed wire fence to hold back
all that nothing. But when you drive
through that nothing
perhaps a young scrappy man
on a half-breed mustang
will ride through your thoughts,
and hand you a letter
from one hundred sixty years ago.
For you, he’ll say with a tip of his hat
before he gallops away toward the west.
What might the past have to say to you
sent via Pony Express?
Perhaps something about
the beauty of nothing,
or how the road you choose matters.
Go ahead, friend, what are you waiting for?
Open that letter.

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In the spaces between

the words I didn’t write,

there was a pour of poison.

A wall-full of bricks.

The barbs from a hundred hooks.

I almost forgot how in the writing

some of that poison would

slip into me, how I despise

a wall, how each hook

demands a bit of my blood.

I spent hours not writing it,

used up reams of thoughts.

It was a relief when the wind

blew away all the words

except these: I understand.

Those, it let me read again

before they, too, blew away

and I didn’t chase after them.

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*Dear readers: Sooooo. After really investing myself in the letter (linked below) and writing the poem below, I found out the letter is a fake. And I thought about just taking down the poem. And then I thought, well, even though Albert didn’t write the letter, I still believe in what it says. So I changed the title and made note here that the letter is fake. I guess my poem just turned into fan fiction??



If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.

            —a fake letter from Albert Einstein, in a letter to his daughter, Lieserl



Thank you for your letter.

I know you wrote it

for a daughter,

but I read it as if

you wrote it for me.


You spoke of making a love bomb,

a device powerful enough

to entirely destroy the hate,

selfishness and greed

that devastate the planet.


I want to believe it’s possible.

Now. Somehow, because it is

your assertion, it feels

more possible than something

the poets propose.


But count me in. Let me help

verify your equation in which

the energy to heal the world

is obtained through love

multiplied by the speed of light squared.


Let the experiment begin

in my heart. Let me always

let love write the proof.

Let me find the infinite energy

inside me waiting to be released.


Let me be driven by love.

Let me remember everything

is in relation to everything else:

Planets in their orbits. A virus. Black holes.

How I meet the world. The bending of light.


*to read the full letter, click here

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Here, into this letter I will slip you
the pucker of this morning’s grapefruit—
the way that the ruby flesh
comes alive on the tongue
and makes the whole room impossibly shine.
And here, tucked inside each serif
is the riot of birdsong I heard
strung along the alley, a delirious
garland of tune. I want to serve
you the scent of the rye as it
turns from flour into bread,
and the sound of the San Miguel River
as it gurgles low in its icy bed.
And here, here is the creamy sweep of the Milky Way
harvested from last night’s clear, clear
sky to fold into your morning thoughts. And here
the stubbornness of mint
that soon will leap from the frosted ground,
and here, the book that will always open
to your favorite page.
The rosy glow on the snow dreamed peaks,
and the green in the spruce that never leaves
and the finish line at the end of the race.
These are impossible things, of course,
to give you, but here is the pink of the wild
rose that blooms at the edge of the desert,
and here is the rich bitterness of espresso
and here are my hands, my open palms,
my fingers tracing the slow of your back.

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reading again
that yellowing letter
you never sent me

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winter haiku

between waves of snow
your letter brings carpets of
pink camellia

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nothing holds back
the river forever—
these hands still trying

same cold, same dawn,
same landscape—even that hill
seems tired of standing


again I write
in my head the letter, again
I rip it up


and then the day came
when I sat in the lupine
instead of climbing


morning after
the storm each glittering limb
the most lovely

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Dear Death,

I know you’ve been coming around a lot lately.
Must be so much to do. I’m sorry I didn’t say hi
when I passed you on Columbia Avenue last week.
I felt busy, too. Actually, when I saw you,
I crossed the street, afraid you’d want to talk—
I had so much to do that day—and I didn’t
want to be late to pick up the kids. You understand?
Nothing personal. Oh, yeah. I know I didn’t invite you
to the birthday party. Sorry. There were so many folks
coming already. Um, yeah, I saw you behind me
in the car today, so close on my bumper. What
was the deal? But it did make me realize,
looking out the windows at the willows beside the highway,
how very beautiful the frost—all glitter
and shine—and how seeing you there in the rearview
mirror my whole world seemed so very,
well, not mine.

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Dear Rumi,

Sometimes I think if the night
were clear enough and the wind
was still, I could see
through all these walls I’ve built
to protect myself—from what?—
and know how to bring them down.
And then I could be open. But tonight
the sky could not be more clear
and there’s no hint of wind
and I still feel in my heart
all the places still clenched and tight.
“Not open, dear, but opening,”
I imagine you might say, reminding me
that open is a verb, not some destination
where I might arrive—
some magical place with a beach and umbrella,
some anywhere I’ve dreamt up
that isn’t wherever I am.
I can laugh kindly at myself when I’m not crying,
or when I’m not trying too hard.
I try too hard. My friend Barbara wrote me
and told me so. My other friend,
Joan, advised me that I would be challenging
wherever I go. They both said it
with so much love that I let their words
wholly in.
The prediction tomorrow
is snow, Rumi, and I will perhaps
be so enthralled or busy with it
that I will be drawn utterly out of my thoughts
of open and opening and how.
But there I go again, planting myself
into the future as if it will be easier
to be present then than it is right now.
Right now, there’s a knocking
in the kitchen. I don’t know what it is.
A heater? The fridge?
And my own heart is knocking
against my chest like a neighbor
who is coming to borrow a cup of sugar
in the middle of the night.
I don’t know, Rumi, why I am writing to you,
except that it feels as if something
has started in my soul, something
I don’t understand. Something more
about forgetting than remembering.
And as you once said to your own teacher Shams,
“You make my raggedness silky.”
I turn to the yes I feel
when I read your words and know
that I know nothing. When I read you
it feels as if the angels that I don’t quite believe in
have come, is that them doing all that knocking?
and those walls I mentioned, well,
I can laugh at them, too, when the doors
I didn’t even know were there
begin by themselves to open.

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