Letter to the Past after Long Silence

Don’t be alarmed. I come unarmed,

or, at least, undrawn. No claws, no

bombs, no mobs, I promise. Odd,

how I’ve forgotten, this soft fog

clotting my brain. Gone, the long

reign of hate, the tight rein of terror,

gone, the arid air laced with mace.

I’d wager you wish to live in peace,

to wake at night to silence, no guns,

no thunder, flame and plunder, just

a cadence of rain, each drop erasing

failure’s stale taste. and I’d bet

my name dismays you greatly, so

let me state my case. To be plain,

I miss you, I know it sounds inane.

Your stagey ways, your feinting,

the shameless parlor games. Tell me,

are shards still shaken into your eyes,

your hair as dark as starlings? Are you

still arch, charming, artful, on guard?

Ardent, jarring, sparring with the stars?

Tell me, how does your garden grow?

You know, it wasn’t all hell, swelter,

swelling, trembling, the shells pelting,

our tents. Welts, welter, wreckage,

the stench of fly-specked flesh. Hell,

some nights the sky held only bells,

the dells welled with light, my head

bent to the fire where you knelt, deftly

dealt the deck, fortune-telling, sending

velvet spells. Do I digress? I guess

I meant to say a blessing, pay a debt,

but my tongue is heavy as felt. Listen,

I am climbing memory’s slippery rungs.

Listen, my hands are cold. Oh, I know

it is over, stilled. Still, you filled my lungs

with summer. The town was one tunnel

of green. And I was still a girl, twirling

in the trees, my body softened by August,

my heart humming, a field full of bees.

Love, it is a little lonely without you.

I sit on the porch swing and whistle,

but stillness still stings. Love, I loved

your stories. Above all other things.

– Sarah Murphy

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