Monday, January 24, 2011

Pen Pal

I think you have a pen pal, he says,
when I get back in from the cold.
McCartney still singing through my headphones.

And he holds up the letter.
Another little card.

She tells me she plays flute too. Not just piano.
And about all the snow they got in Connecticut.
She thinks being a librarian is the coolest.
She tells me when her birthday is, as if I didn’t know.

I read it twice. Then I give it to my husband to read.
For a second I wonder if I’ll ever see her
before I remember the fine act of patience
my hopes like stones I have been laying each day
a path back to the sea
and how long it took to get here
these long ten years.
This time I don’t think about the dead,
except that I was close to her age when I got my first letter from her mother.
I still have it, that awkward introduction.
No, today is not for the dead, instead I think about the living girl

in her house, which I have never seen.
I picture her up in her room,
her posters,
her swimming medals,
the things she keeps on her dresser,
nail polish, the case for her glasses,
maybe a picture of her dog that died,
the drawer she keeps these cards in,
if she leaves her clothes on the floor like I still do,
her voice, high and clear, when she yells, “Coming”
because her parents called
and dinner is on the table.

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