Your letter moves me further off center.
Another distance I am far from reaching.
How do fish keep from going mad in blue water?
They must feel how wide it is. They try not to
think of it. I think of it. It is a feeling
of being stretched between two points you can
never touch. My thoughts go to the sea and stop.
How long until I can study a map calmly?
I am counting what I have here. I feel winter
coming; I feel it coming out of me. I collect
leaves, buckeyes, bird feathers. I am greedy
for the sun. I stay out all day. I will get
what I can. The hurt wants to escape me.
It wants to come into small things, change color.
It’s not a letter to be read again. I hide it
in a grey envelope, the address turned down,
like a telegram from the Army, or a postmark
like a verdict, stamped “Australia.”
Cynthia Huntington’s first publication in a literary journal was in AGNI 5/6, in the spring of 1975. Her most recent book, Heavenly Bodies (Crab Orchard/Southern Illinois University Press), was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award in Poetry. She lives in Vermont and teaches at Dartmouth College. (updated 4/2014)