It does, and I though I am no longer little I still post secret letters to strangers, and I am sorry that this one– although not secret– comes so late.
This week I sent someone I do not know two silver-clasped threads of silk. One was red, and one was white, and in return she sent me a poem. It was titled Love Sorrow.
It was not hers, but it was hers, and now I am holding it too. I am not sure what to do with it.
When I was a very little girl my mother read aloud to me the stories of John Irving’s strange and complicated families; when I was a little older, I read their familiar pages myself. I remember that similar inimitable line from Hotel New Hampshire: Sorrow floats.
Sorrow, in Irving’s novel, was not the little girl of Oliver’s poem, but rather the Berry family’s black lab, whom they’d had a taxidermist stuff upon dying; the line refers to the plane crash that killed Mary Berry and her youngest son, among the wreckage of which the glass-eyed body of the long-dead Sorrow buoyed.
You wrote in your letter of suicide, and of the nets and fences that prevent it in Toyko; you wrote of the fuck-you anti-dance of the West; you wrote of sadness, too. But what shape does your sorrow take?
(There’s no need to answer; I would not know how to respond.)
On my desk a cat– she has been living with us for months; she is still cat– is half-purring and half-growling through the heart she’s dragged close to me. Writing is nothing without blood; the fire burns here too.