6 February 2008 | Vol. 7, No. 4


(use as needed)

Those things I said, I meant.

But here is the letter I should have sent:


I shall be brief, but frank,

Terse if not curt, aloof, though unswerving—

What little we had amounted to nothing.

And yet I write you this missive, as if.

I sit on a sandbank as I scribe this,

For tonight the twilit beach is impossibly

Gorgeous. No wind, no fog, no moody

Sorts of weather. No the two of us together

Like the last time, but whatever.

And on the verge of this horizon's indifference,

I watch as a ship slips into the distance.

And with it, my resistance to our over-ness.

Well, well. What a tideswell that idled between us.

The untidy-up-able mess

Of your meanness, piles of petty treasons

Birthed like broken promises, breech.

But I have not rung your cell phone now for weeks.

So our terminus no more consumes me.

And irrevocable dolors no more entomb me.

You see?

You have not ruined me.

And I was not mooning over you

When yesterday I fumbled through

Slews of photo books and diaries, scrap

Boxes and clipping files, tattering folders fat

With a miscellany of safeguarded ills,

Brittle ordeals,

And souvenir glooms.


Of curled-up edges and yellowing vellums.

Flotsam. Jetsam. Comme

Ci, comme ça.

Que sera, sera.

No, I am not wistful as the mist is.

No, I do not brood as the brume does,

Shrugging over your infinite ocean

Like an omen

Of momentous doom.

Soon, I'll disremember you,

Forgetting every ebb and drag you tried.

We eddied. We surged. We broke. I wave goodbye.

I close this note

With that alone

In mind. And I seal this

Epistle without kiss,

Without crying. I sign

This memo with a hieroglyphic

Scratch. The door of us

slams shut

with a clobber and a thwack.

The sound of never turning back.

Like the drubbing of a hammer on the lid of a coffin.

How often do I think on you? Not often.

About the author:

Jill Alexander Essbaum's newest collection, Harlot, is available from No Tell Books.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Jill Alexander Essbaum at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 4, where "Epistolary" ran on February 6, 2008. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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