Letter to P—12:27pm
The truth is I have very little to say. I’ve been trying to write to you for weeks and have almost
nothing to say. The best
part of any correspondence is the future it runs along the side of. The best part
of any correspondence is how even the not-writing-back changes the texture
of everyday life. I wish
I had more to say to you. More than anything else I wish I had more to say to you. More than to
anyone else, maybe, I feel like I don’t say enough to you. The week
before I left Tennessee I dropped my flower mug and the handle broke. Only the handle broke.
Only the handle of it. Only the part of it
without any flowers. I wish I could say something about the mug and the things
that I love that come back. The thingness of them. The possibility that, though people don’t change
when they’re loved, things do. The material world does.
Like gardens, growing in hallways, to make the hallways longer. Two days ago I was reading
a story by Bolaño and almost cried. A story about parents. And about the people you write to. And
the daughter of the person you write to, years after the writing ends. The daughter
who passes by Girona on a trip and has no idea who you are. Who knows you only as a phone
number on the balcony of her father’s handwriting. Someone to stand next to.
One day I’ll have to set my life in order. Every
piece of it. The pieces that have to do with my parents. How lonely and bored they are in Tennessee.
The pieces that have to do with train-rides, relatives, xia xiang, North China. My grandfather
in his Red Army hat in Harbin. I put
ice in this poem for him. Is it cold enough. I know
if I wait until something terrible happens
I will regret it. I will never recover. Spectrality and/
or inheritance. The way I have made the exact same mistakes as my parents and still not felt closer
to them. The way I have only been able to write love poems and still hate the lyric. The way
I learn Spanish all summer until, in Boston, someone new
is talking to me in Chinese and I’m inconsolable. I’m remembering
my parent’s window in Tennessee when I sat on the terrace at night, listening
to Björk. Hyperballad. Hyperballad. Hyperballad.
(12/12/20, for P)