Your Letters

Your Letters
by Theodora Goss

You said you write me letters in your head.
Of course I never read them: they’re addressed
to her, the other me who also lives
inside your head, more perfect than I could be,
prettier, more sophisticated, probably taller.
She gets them, opens them at her kitchen table,
smiles, and then writes you back — almost immediately.

I’m sure she likes receiving them as much
as I like getting the ones you actually send me,
on paper that does not disappear when you turn
your attention to another matter —
the ones I save in a box labeled Sewing Supplies,
so I can pretend they’re less precious than they are.
I’m sure she likes seeing herself reflected
in your eyes — I wonder what you look like in hers.

To be honest, I envy her — she gets to live
in a country I’ll only ever be able to access
fitfully, intermittently. She gets to ride trains
to cities I’ve never even heard the names of,
that you visited once in childhood or perhaps
read about in a book from the library.
She gets to walk through forests you remember
beside streams you explored as a pirate or Robin Hood,
and sit in your teenage bedroom beneath posters
of bands that disbanded long ago, whose songs
you still have on cassette tapes. She’s met your mother,
thrown a ball to the smartest dog in the world,
tasted apple strudel the way your grandmother made it.
She gets to hear the music on your headphones
and wander around in your dreams.

Meanwhile I’m stuck with only what you tell me —
reports from a distant country, mostly at peace,
sometimes at war with itself. Some are long missives,
some are curt dispatches from the front lines,
or perhaps telegrams without punctuation.

Forgive me: you know I respect your privacy.
But someday, if possible, I would like to be privy
to this conversation.

(The image is Girl Reading Letter by Alfred Edward Chalon.)

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