Letter to the Underneath

Dear milk and almond smells rising up from skin,
damp rope of hair I now can twist into a knot
from having grown it out since winter—

I look up at the clock and it is past
the midnight hour; still, I cannot sleep.
Books and bills, papers; a watercolor

set, as yet unused, on the desk. In these
late hours, I piece together disappointment
and hurt, remorse and tears; scenes

lashed with rushes of bronze wheat, fog
cloaking green hills, sawed-off limbs
of trees. Long ago now, in my childhood,

my mother kept needles and thread,
all her sewing notions, in an old
biscuit tin etched with lines: ocean

swell, frigate furling all its sails,
armored and fitted for some destination.
Where the billows rusted and darkened over,

I’d take a pin and scratch until parts
of the picture showed again— as if
to reassure myself there was something

that came before: canvas or sky; wing of water
bird, backdrop, color, history. Dear time
prior to this, you must still be there.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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