Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Beneath a hunter's moon riding low over the lake
We spread them out between us trying to decide
If it was wrong to open mail so long hidden

And while we thought that over and dark descended
You brought out the fat navy pillar candle from Venice
The puddle of light it spilled on the table was enough

For both of us to see surprisingly well and I picked
Up the booklet that seemed full of notes but showed
Very quickly to be something else all together ...

"My secret self" began the first page dated
Almost a full century before the present one;
My hand trembled to realize I was in possession

Of someone's diary - and I began to wonder
In earnest then, about the unopened letters
We'd found behind the stove of our new/old cabin
I decided to read the journal first and then see ...

All that long night and three candles later, I read
And you listened - as we drank wine - and wept
Some - for never had I read anything so filled

With such aching longing and confusion as this
Journal - an obvious attempt to cope with feelings
For a lover that had disappeared suddenly
From a young woman's life with promises to write

And the ensuing months of not hearing a word;
Her ultimate feelings of betrayal and devastation
And finally, her plans to take her life ...

But what of the unsealed letters we wondered
The journal ended after the entry detailing the woman's
Suicide plans and we guessed that probable outcome

With great trepidation I scooped up the letters
Held together with a leather thong and untied the lot—
As they fell apart, a single sheet of paper escaped as well

In cursive script I read a short and somewhat curious note
"May God forgive me what I've done, for now I have lost
all - my beautiful daughter - and she her life. I thought I
did her right. Perhaps not. I follow her now also." 

From reading the faded postmarks I could just make out
the dates on the envelopes and place of mailing
All of them on the continent, in France actually
They appeared to be in order of having been received ...

"My dearest - gone only such a short time and already
Missing you fills every minute of every day with loss
So tragic it is as if I've suffered a death in the family

I cannot imagine how I am to cope until we are
Next together - please think of me often and with
As much love and tenderness as I do you, Yours ..."

The first  few letters were much the same
With the desperation only growing more evident
By about the fifth - the suitor was obviously deeply hurt

As well as worried that he had not heard from her
She, of course, had no idea that he had been writing
And thought herself betrayed the whole while

Even though he never received a reply, it was
Obvious from his letters, he never gave up hope
And never stopped writing - right up until he set out

For home, he assumed that something dire
Had happened to her to keep her from replying
But never once thought she had betrayed him

His last letter to her told how he would come
Straight to her when he got back on land
And they would be together, she wasn't to worry

The sun was crawling into the day as I finished
The last page and let it drop - exhausted,
Saddened beyond all grief - you and I could not

Speak but merely held each other up as we
Stumbled into bed and held each other there
Falling into a dreamless sleep, trying to forget for awhile.

Artwork:Jean-Francois de LeMotte, Still Life,1670


  1. You made a whole story, I was glued, and sad, Nice!!

  2. Yes, a whole narrative and history here. Very well-done. K.

  3. Awww... what a sad ending to a deeply moving tale you wove. Such a lot of fabulous creative thought going into this which tells more or less the whole story and made for a lovely read! :)

  4. You have woven a very moving tale from the picture - a real Romeo and Juliet type tragedy.

  5. nice storytelling...you got me all caught up in it...i love his hope and still sending the letters....

  6. I especially like the fat navy candle from Venice...

  7. Hope and wisdom of doing from the heart...once again you've taken me to thoughts much deeper and I've enjoyed the looking back, while also moving forward in better ways! Great writing!

  8. What a lovely story you wove here ~ So sad that she and her love didn't a chance to continue their journey ~ At least from my perspective, but they might have reunited at last ~ Very creative take here ~

  9. I think you might enjoy a book called The Tin Ring, by Zdenka Fantlova - a ninety year old lady who's written about the love of her life...*smiles*

  10. So, so sad. And quite lovely.


  11. sad, but so passionate. a compelling read.

  12. Even tho' it's not really fair to the commenters, it's a real treat when I find a slew of comments I haven't read (usually by accident, I just didn't make it back it here for some reason and given this particular prompt, it's especially touching)- I thank everyone who came here and read and especially wrote a bit about this poem ... I'm glad so many found it a sad but interesting read ... that's how it was intended ... thanks again all.