Love Letters

Original Text: 
Miss Pamela’s Mercy (Toronto: Coach House Press, 1992): 87-88.
1I would give my husband drawings for grocery lists,
2with smiling faces on the eggs, and spider feet
3dangling everywhere. I could draw letters too.
4fat senseless alphabets, lexical landscapes of
5pointed trees and bloated clouds. that is how I
6wished words were, with changing colours and
7feathers in their spines. on road signs in my
9variegated sunburst. unlike the stiff black
10knots and stakes that glared at me from envelopes
11and books. an unchanging and cruel exotica,
12like smelling Cuban cigars wherever you go or
13the same screaming opera. he said that I did
14not need to learn with him there, reading slowly
15aloud, but sometimes in silence. that drove me
16insane, he would laugh or frown at something
17on the page, and look as if he were a creeping
18vine on a tombstone, a coffee stain on a piece
19of clean manilla. I practice learning on a stack
20of mail he kept in his sock drawer, and I
21finally learned dear. Dear Hank, it felt like
22having a perfume sample fall from a magazine
23in a sweet sudden breath. it made me think of
24velvet antlers, of his rumpled cardigan sweater
25and my love for him, a word which slayed me,
26with its clean lines and quick exhalation,
27the swelling heart in its middle. I began to
28scream things all day long, and I felt the first
29affection for poetry through the ringing sounds
30of advertisements, soapbox labels and advice to
31the lovelorn columns. words were heroic, huge
32killing things, and they beat in my head and
33bled from my eyes and fingers. I would be ironing,
34and a giant phrase or comma would barrel into
35the room, its veins bulging, its arms around
36my waist. Dear Hank, I miss you especially
37your sexy hands, mine clenched when I got that
38far and then some. then I knew for sure that
39reading was magic, it conjured up these long
41baldspot and shaking dewlap of my faithless
42husband, adrift on the libretto of his private
43life. he would still read to me in his annoying
44way while I squirmed on my novels and texts,
45that lay under the couch cushions like misplaced
46scissors. I drew him an elaborate list one day,
47of pink champagne bottles and support girdles,
48and wrote my first words. I left them with his
49letters, on the back of our marriage certificate,
50I think they were my finest, I said, Dear
51Hank, the end. and right away began working on
52a longer book.

Notes

8] The Rockettes were a stylish, precision-dancing troupe who became famous when they opened New York City's Radio City Music Hall on December 27, 1932. Back to Line
40] Harlow: Jean Harlow, platinum-blonde actress (1911-37). Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2004
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Lynn Crosbie or Coach House Press permissions department.</b>