elegy for the personal letter : a poem by allison joseph
Elegy for the Personal Letter by Allison Joseph
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 now--thinking 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.
"Elegy for the Personal Letter" by Allison Joseph, from My Father's Kites. (c) Steel Toe Books, 2010
(*via Writer's Almanac; Photography by Elizabeth Griffin)