restricted access From Letters to the Dead and Distant: Dear Marie, and: Dear Sonny, and: The Mute Scribe Recalls the Talking Circle
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From Letters to the Dead and Distant: Dear Marie, and: Dear Sonny, and: The Mute Scribe Recalls the Talking Circle

From Letters to the Dead and Distant: Dear Marie

Dear Marie:

You must forget strawberries, even ifyou happen to hear the meadowlarkcalling you toward sunned streams;you must forget the yards of grandchildrensummers hollering sundownas you must forget the moonlight,as you brushed your hair on the ironbed while the old man listened to thenarration of the Twins playingthrough the static on the radio

Don’t try to go grandmother’s land, or back into the houseto turn out bread for strangers again.The water basin remains half-buriedRusting next to the old stove mouthingWeeds and yellow flowers

The memory of your shaking hands will be enoughTo light a cigarette for me, thoughI often showed up after years overseas, years and travelsbeyond the last address you saw under my name,I was never a stranger.

Jim is still fighting in one countryFor another nation none of usBelong toVirgil has crossed overBy canoe, bridge, or beam of light, cryingOr smilingWho can say?

Zahquod is on the other side tooStill speaking through songsThe rounds of syllablesPassed on by a shadow who woke meFrom a mourning dream [End Page 45]

The body of life holds a book of dreamswithout organs, without temperatureA book of dreams contains, few words,no maps, no territory, no instruments,of navigation, or tools of construction

just the old ones passingthoughts over a fire

Some will tell you you you you are moving towarddeath, do not stop, no matter what the season, do not cryNo matter how lonesome, though lonesome works for the livingas well as any Condition of the heartas long as silence remainsthe open whole for bringing us back to the singing,the telling, the loving, even the violence of memory can’tsubdue.

Pick up this note I left you then, forget the words, remember theshapes, the forms, the hand across the page, the facelit by a lamp your old man carried long ago, though fired by differentfuel, an arcane fuel in these times of so many ways of ignitingColor and object in what might otherwise remain barely seen,in the starlit or luminous phases of moon.

That face, the one I am wearing now is not the faceOf the one who wrote the note under lamplight.It is a face moving toward you, ranging the earth, fillingUp with medicine, talking back to fear, touching here and therea tree, a child, another woman, stone, taking in food,at times imagining you at a table, coffee between us,sunlight spreading over surfaces, bringing bodies to light,you, me, as if in sharing, imagining this, I am makingfood, words, light for you.


Zahquod II [End Page 46]

Dear Sonny

Dear Sonny:

These lines are too much like the world we spoke of: like stoned out bragging in basements, in the rhetorical fissures of decorated walls, the whether or nots, just blowing about, talking war, world, third, first, second, the prospects of discovery, the projections of the cold inner theatre, that one that talks to you before the red velvet curtain, that one that speaks before the windows prop, blinds, slatternly shadow, sun, shadow, sun, beside the wall of photographs, momentary masks you wore to wear time down to a final aperture, the sleeping field, winter, tracks of animals, over flowers and snow covered stone, little faded flags blowing about on sticks.

Shall I tell you my story, the one of grief, the one of deception, the one of travel, the one of the talk over a wooden table after a funeral, the one of the glass draining rum into a face just beyond reach in the dark? Should I tell you the story of the one I wanted to shoot, the one I wanted to love, the white feather falling from the sky, the search on the other side of the river for the lost...