And The Letter Came - Poem by Patti Masterman
And the letter came:
And you thumbed, humbled, over it and over
An hundred times a week, you took it out
Pouring each word over again
As for the first time, it still was
And blotchy it was from tears
And tips, nervous fingers which pulled little rips
Into the off-white paper, where much strong handling bore
Each time's grief bearing need: you read it, nothing more
Seen differently; surely always the same, yet nuances
Came despite instinctual knowledge of before;
Did this sentence- this wording style preferred it
That he might mean only just that- or was it
Imagination's sullied creation? did those words
Sound tired; and if very thought of you
Became fatigue, was it the plague of his precious pen, or brain
Or just the worry of his own entrenchment there?
Even so; sometimes you read familiar words
That joy shouted from, certain as could be.
Times when you felt uneasy, queasy at one word
Or phrase, as if a ringing death-knell must have
Rang: to spell out the end of time's bitter being-
Crossed yourself, three times; and said a beaded prayer.
The letter came to be important to you that this
Could cause everything to cease; a hunt driven
Feverish, once it went missing where from out it's pocket-house
(deeply as when you bent under the trees..
to pick up crying children in their frail need) it leaped.
And when one day unfolding, the letter dropped into your lap
Pieces neat piled into sections; folds perforated through
Because so nearly worn out; stained, thin-souled as grief itself
Heart treasure map woven in lover's lace; bequeathed
And then realized: there no other letter ever was or be;
If never sent, gone missing; you'd pinned all quickened heart beats
Stayed hope's courage upon a single letter's fate, and it
Carried through the fears, saw above the swarming years
Sleepless nights when, no tears left, it swam: you gathered up the limp
Damp, feathered pieces and stowed them safe for keeping
Knowing some day again, when things were not the same
And finding them you would remember, this single letter
By which all hope then was given, your hope that came
As a single letter; came due south, straight down from heaven..
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