I found poetry pegged on my clothesline yesterday.
The envelopes are not always in my garden, and never in my house. He is nothing if not imaginative. I find them dangling from branches by a length of gold ribbon, tucked into train seats, pinned to a community noticeboard in the local library, even taped to a changing room mirror once. I think he knew I didn’t like it that time, because he never did it again. But the envelopes keep coming, and I keep opening them.
No one else ever does. I don’t know why. Perhaps my name written on the front is distinctive enough for no mistakes to be made; perhaps there is a spell in the ink that I can’t see. They are always the same. A small blue envelope in an unlikely place with my name in silver ink on the front and his seal in black wax on the back. When I slide my thumb under the flap and slit it open with my nail, there will be scraps of paper inside, snippets of poetry copied out in the same silver ink on the back of sheet music or photocopied library pages. Sometimes there are pressed flowers that drift out and crumble against my fingers with all the sweet ephemerality of a kiss. Other times there are ornate brass buttons, magpie feathers, typewriter keys.
He knows me very well.
I read and re-read his words, trying to decipher the messages he is trying to send. I keep them in my pockets until they are crumpled soft with creases. I kiss them until I can taste the bitterness of the ink. It isn’t easy loving him. It isn’t easy for me to hold onto his reality while the rest of the world denies he ever existed, when the only times I see him he has all the solidity of a ghost, all the permanence of those crumbling flowers. If I can only hold on long enough, maybe that will be enough to bring him back, but it’s hard when every day the world tells me I’m wrong.
Today’s envelope is floating inside a water lily at the pond’s edge when I stop at the park to read in the long summer evening. As my trembling fingers tear the flap open golden glitter streams out into the grass, shining in the sunset light like magic dust.
I can see his hand silhouetted in the glow. For a moment, I can almost feel it against mine.
It’s close enough.
© Faith Mudge, 2012