Born! © 1996 Doris Flueck
Letter to Agnieszka,
The wind blows exactly like you remember it, hard and low against the ground. By now all the patches of natural prairie grass on the west side are bent in half. Their stalks are withered at the roots. I can feel the cold coming in under the basement door at night. I'm having to cover up the bottles and tubes now, before I go to bed. I'm afraid they'll freeze.
No, I haven't been out much more than to get milk and feed the cat. Before the Farmer's Market closed for the season, I bought a birdhouse made from an African gourd because it reminded me of you. The boy who sold it to me was just your type, his eyes having that familiar blank and his lips just the right toffee tinge. He looked as if he spent his weekdays properly pinned in a uniform of some sort. I asked him if the gourds grew all over Africa (thinking of your story about the hashish bars in Cairo), but he couldn't say. "I just read what was on the package." I told him I'd take the birdhouse home and make sure something moved into it, since he grew it from a seed. "You've invested quite a lot in this gourd." He grunted. I hung it on the Mulberry by the back porch. It's still vacant. Two months now.
That's all the conversation I've had lately. The thousand watt bulbs you sent are enough company. My eyes are feeling much better. If I live to be anywhere near 70, I'll give you all the credit. But I said this when you were 15.
You still don't understand the meaning of habit. You wouldn't know an addiction if it bit you on your pretty little foot. Not even your own. (Darling, don't say a word about endearments. I know you're grown, a big girl, paying your bills & feeding your own cat. But, honey, baby, you are you are you are - and you always will be.) Things yellow your life, too. Isn't this why you left the flat land? I remember distinctly a conversation we had once about the sexuality of mountains, and having grown up surrounded by them, you can't stand to be able to see in all directions. You said, "I wake up in the morning and look out the window and think, another day, another sky like a box." I wonder if you'd noticed that once you reach a certain age, the sky is always a box, no matter where you see it from. But you are enabled by nature. I am enabled by the brighter lights and oatmeal cookies you send in the mail, wrapped in newsprint and toilet paper and plastic.
But I know it's not concoction you worry about it. Not my concoction of a weak heart, thin skin, and chemicals. It's the fact I never intended to really work a day in my life. Already hardened in your responsible shell, Agnieszka, you expected to shellac me too.
You aren't the first honey baby to do this. Just the first who cared at all about the way the dark was ruining my eyes.
shelle m. barton
Copyright © shelle m. barton
Swiss silk paintings
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Copyright © 1996 A Small Garlic Press. All rights reserved.
Created 1996/12/15. Updated last on 2000/7/17.