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Dear John Letter, Never Sent

The weather came in just as I left town, a farewell show

over the hood of the car. There has to be a way

to put the beauty inside, to carry it along: snow flurries

freckling my belly, cedar fence post ribs

expanding with each breath. But you want to know

what to do with the dead cow we saw in the winter pasture,

where to hide the old mill pouring her bitter steam—

All those landmarks that hold a body under, pin it down,

belong in narrow little books with loose spines

where folded ferns fall out moth-riddled,

worm-worn pages pinpricked through with light.

I couldn’t be the crutch of cloudless days against

your dog-eared sadnesses. But maybe I was wrong

to think I understood despair’s whittling hand any better

than you did, now walking among all that beauty I left behind.

from The Keys to the JailFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2014
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Keetje Kuipers Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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