Letter to M.

You wrote of the sand, the trees,
the sea’s constant whisper

those months you labored to learn
the language of your travels—

And in the darkness before dawn,
fishermen ploughing the moon’s

silver shine before the day
began. We were all younger then

and did not mind so much the heat;
then, turning a corner, the sudden,

all-encasing fog; the way the sun
could disappear for months

behind a heavy curtain of rain.
The little deprivations help

to train the body and the spirit:
short courses in stoicism, just

enough to help in that exercise
of weathering. But I know

how weak we are: which is to say
we think, with care, we might

actually get to live longer.
I also close my eyes when it seems

too much, when my fears lurch ahead:
glistening creature made of my own parts,

straining to outdistance the one
who appears at every crossroad—

the one I’ll have to carry
on my back wherever I go.

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