Self-Portrait as Unsent Lines, Unsent Letter
Hello. Hello dear. Dear one. Dearest. Dear to whom
my concern draws near. I write to you from Oklahoma.
From a small town in Georgia, sweltering. Blue sky above,
clear. Gray day, train trestles. Night with no distinction
between the water and the sky except for stars and stars
reflected. I write to you with the ticking keyboard
of my smartphone. A pen in my hand. A pencil stub.
Paper folded and refolded. Dear one, I stutter to start.
This tongue can’t shape the words. A mouth full of spit.
When I last spoke. When I last saw you. When I last spoke
to you I saw you for the first time in the shape
of the last time. Such a relief when a city block erupted
between us, then a stretch of street, then miles, blissful.
Still I write to you. I text. There is no emoticon denoting
the distance between a face and its expression.
I am enclosing a photograph. I am attaching an image.
I no longer love the way you block the light. I am not attached
to your feet. Every night while you slept I picked the stitches
free, but then I had to learn to walk again. I took this picture
of the empty bed so you’d remember the shape of my body,
so I could imagine my return.
From Gloss by Rebecca Hazelton. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. © 2019 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.