A Month of Letters

I'm writing letters.

To an old friend who understands the missing pieces.

To a young friend I write: I don't have answers but here, consider this, and this, and maybe this.

To a niece.

To a poet.

To a student.

To a mother-in-law.

To myself.

Letters let us wonder and search, and sometimes declare.

You like letters, too? Please join me in A Month of Letters, a challenge presented by novelist (and letter writer) Mary Robinette Kowal.


Elegy for the Personal Letter 

I miss the rumpled corners of correspondence,

the ink blots and crossouts that show

someone lives on the other end, a person

whose hands make errors, leave traces.

I miss fine stationary, its raised elegant

lettering prominent on creamy shades of ivory

or pearl grey. I even miss hasty notes

dashed off on notebook paper, edges

ragged as their scribbled messages—

can't much write nowthinking of you.

When letters come now, they are formatted

by some distant computer, addressed

to Occupant or To the family living at

meager greetings at best,

salutations made by committee.

Among the glossy catalogs

and one time only offers

the bills and invoices,

letters arrive so rarely now that I drop

all other mail to the floor when

an envelope arrives and the handwriting

is actual handwriting, the return address

somewhere I can locate on any map.

So seldom is it that letters come

That I stop everything else

to identify the scrawl that has come this far—

the twist and the whirl of the letters,

the loops of the numerals. I open

those envelopes first, forgetting

the claim of any other mail,

hoping for news I could not read

in any other way but this.


— Allison Joseph