Letter to a Friend

I write you from my humble home

just east of the Berkshires.

Would you believe me if

I said I meant to write sooner?


The light outside is falling fast.

I try always to have a window about me,

I grew spoiled by fresh mountain air

all those days at the farm.


They seem like summer days, those days in Vershire,

half-dream and hazy, faded by the sun.

Was I always dreaming? Did I sleep the four months through?

I have few photographs, no poems, and do not remember

the content of letters I sent home.


There was snow. I don’t remember its touch

but there must have been, it was February –

the harshest winter of the decade, they say.


I was sad from March until May,

crying myself to sleep each night.

Then, the last week, I was happy.

But it was too late. I was already leaving.


Did I tell you I now work at a farm?

It’s modest; no livestock, not even chickens.

I do the work I never got to do; harvest produce I planted

but never reaped in Vershire.


Sometimes I struggle to believe that those four months really did happen.

I feel more or less the same as before I left.

In the mornings I walk my dog the same route

with the same houses and same gardens.

The same sprinklers whir

and the same children run through them.


The only thing that’s new

is a coffee shop in the center.

I still eat toast and jam for breakfast.

I talk on the phone with friends who are the same,

their hair only a little bit grayer.


Those months did happen though, this letter is proof

that they happened, those four months,

to both of us. Why is it I still don’t know how to write about them?

Why do I fail even to speak of them?


I remember the sheep, the northern edge of forest,

the pine shelter and reading O’Connor on Derby Lawn.

I remember late nights in the dimly lit common room

and wild flowers on the table for brunch.

Why can I not piece them together?


I write so late because I thought time would lead

to the gestation of more coherent thoughts.

I thought I could make sense of it all,

that I could package the pieces after

sanding their corners and

send them to you with a bow.


But it’s been nine months now,

a year exactly since we first arrived in the hills,

and if anything, time has only further confused me.


Will you be at the reunion?

Please tell me you’ll be there. 

I couldn’t bear to forget you.


– A


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