I’ve been working this week on ordering and editing a lot of recent poems and hope to release them as a self-published book soon. It’s more or less an experiment to learn the process, since I’ve never attempted to self-publish.
This morning I decided to read one poem out loud – simply recording on my phone – to see how it felt. This poem, titled “Every Day Is A Love Letter,” is adapted from a short essay by the same name I published on Medium in February. Below is the text of the poem. I hope you enjoy it.
Every Day Is A Love Letter You once wrote me a love letter postmarked the day you left for an ill-advised trip to China I did not want to accompany you on. Your pinched handwriting filled pages of yellow ledger paper, not a single error, no scratched-out words, for you stayed up all night writing it, or re-writing it, I could tell. I still have it, your yellow letter, envelope and all – of course I do, in the manila folder with all my important documents: birth certificate, social security card, our marriage license. It was the only paper letter you wrote to me, but it was the only one that needed to be written, to tell me you needed me, in case something happened on your China trip so I would have a goodbye from you to take out and unfold and hold in my hands. I thought of you on all those weeks you were in the rural interior of China backpacking through farm country or industrial cities without tourist pretensions, wondering why you had gone without me, without a plan, as if the only plan was escape to see if you really wanted to say goodbye. I watched the weather reports from places I had never heard of, and learned the people there endured the same winter as me, and you my love who promised always to keep my feet warm were there with them, shivering unprepared in a light jacket. When you stole sleep on a bench in a train station, I was here waiting for you reading your yellow letter, looking at the snow, willing myself closer to you. I never wrote you back, though I thought many times of sitting down with pen and paper. Nothing I could write would do justice to your ledger-lined vows – I would write flatfooted undeliverable greetings in answer to your goodbyes. You came back to me sharp shouldered with hunger so tired you cried and I held you like a mother and fed you rolls with honey and apologized for no reason other than for staying behind, leaving you alone to leave me. In the time we have I make every day a love letter to you – each kiss hello-goodbye, every caress of your tired head, my unfunny jokes to provoke your world-weary smile, quiet door closings to help you sleep and recover from this life. Every clean glass of water at your bedside table, each honeyed roll, my clumsy struggles to give your little son the same haircut as you. Walking beside you my life is a yellow love letter holding your hand, the way you wished I had done with you in China.