A Letter

Gary Duehr

As if my heart has been pulled
from my body. Bewildered.

My senses brimming with indecision’s
thick black smoke. Whatever choice remains

means someone undeserving of it
must suffer the consequences.

In my briefcase, a letter embossed
with pale blue handwriting. Held to the light,

it’s a screen through which old secrets
make themselves seen, felt.

I hurt, they say. The soft shapes
of faces, the texture of pink erasers, come

warily forth—the way a river’s dazzle reveals
strands of loosestrife, a blue heron’s leg

entwined with half-sunk branches.
Everything we’ve been taught

distills to a pencil’s moist tip
that doesn’t belong to anyone, yet presses

surprisingly deep into a piece of paper’s
flesh, gone white from shock. Is it possible

to get over something just as one climbs over
a rock, an upturned chair? When it most matters,
do options narrow for their own sake?
As if the world could shrink

to the breathing space before me.
Remembering, in the midst of floating,

to inhale, exhale, walk the hall. To follow
the dapple of leaf-shadows from chair to wall.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro


GARY DUEHR co-directs the Boston-based Invisible Cities Group, which creates large-scale performances combining theatrical elements, installations of visual art, and poetry. His books of poetry include Winter Light (Four Way Books, 1999) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press, 1999).