Letter from Malta
- with thanks to Raymond Carver
This is the letter
I was going to write earlier but didn’t
because I was watching an airplane
fly in from the West, dustcloud maroon in the pink sky,
imagining it was you come to fetch me,
how I would find you on the tarmac,
you’d be wearing a white shirt with buttons
waiting and knowing exactly what to say
but not needing to say it.
We’d kiss then, if it was really you.
We’d tremble and kiss
and exclaim our good fortune.
We’d forget this letter
and the one before
and all the ones you meant
to write but never did.
This island would grow in that moment,
the earth would rise up at the point
of our lips touching,
we would overthrow the ocean.
Snow would drift from another continent
and cover our shoulders.
But it wasn’t you flying in
and here in Malta they have no word for snow;
it is simply the thing that never comes,
the thing impossible even to imagine.
Loving you has never been as simple as that.
I know your face. I know the taste of your skin,
I know the words you would have written
had your pen found paper.
If you dropped from the sky
I would know just what to call you.
- Irene Latham
This poem was inspired by Raymond Carver's poem "The Poem I Didn't Write." It starts "Here is the poem I was going to write/ earlier but didn't..."
I read a bunch of Carver when I first started getting serious about writing and publishing poems. I am really drawn to the simplicity of his writing style -- it's a good reminder to we word-lovers who can get so clever sometimes (and be so pleased with the cleverness) that it distracts from the poem/story/whatever. So often less is more.
"One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity."
Edward de Bono