Dear Seven: A Circle of Epistles (6)
Part 6 in a series of 7
I’m writing to say hello. We are new friends. Which means I know you and I don’t. So, I will be the protagonist of this letter, you will be the ghost.
New friend, you “have land” in Wisconsin! I promise to teach you how to fly fish. I’ll tell you this: casting is a beautiful dance, and there’s nothing as luxurious as standing in a stream, but you need to accept that fish are not abstract. Catching a fish is like looking into the face of every mistake you’ve ever made — the eyes, innocent golden disks, look and look. And yet to cradle the fish in its slick gasping skin, free the hook and slip the body back into velvet… Life must be lived to be understood.
An odd moment: a squirrel fat as a small raccoon is scratching at my screen. He refuses to face the music. Winter is dawning on us. Ice weights the trees, each branch like white coral. My roof, who knows the ordinary boringness of a house, is silent while snow humps up in the road.
Recently, I found a list of goals in an old notebook:
1. Learn the mandolin
I keep my invisible mandolin under wraps — the future gleams, and my dread of 2 and 3.
I think of this thing about happiness, and our promise to emptiness. Each morning I wake, say I’m sorry out loud, to myself. In emergencies, I quote my favorite poetry — a poem Lexa wrote at eleven years old:
No it isn’t no it’s not
Yes it is it’s getting quite hot.
Summer is out Summer is in.
Summer is here so let’s go swim.
I once heard you read at the Green Mill, something about the inevitability of men and road construction in spring. Actually, you don’t read, you sing. Teach me! I’ll wait for you with my loving mandolin — we’ll sing something something something about my mother’s mismarriage and its residue.
I once asked you if it was true, “Girls levitate each other at slumber parties?” You rose to a witchy laugh and looked at me. You said it’s easy — mothers, girlfriends, wives and daughters all know. Why aren’t scientists studying this and winning awards? No magic but science is how I see things, yet with two fingers you’ve raised whole girls in pajamas and white socks… light as a feather stiff as a board. Boys don’t float, we play tackle basketball and swear and weigh ourselves down in forts.
cin, I should have written more about children. We will both be living the truth of babies soon. I don’t know what to say. From here, below zero, I can only quote William Matthews, “Our children are the only message we can leave them.”
Keep well, Chris
by Chris Green
Editor’s note: This letter was published in Columbia Poetry Review no. 20, 2007, and is reprinted here to preserve the integrity of the series.