Jim Daniels


I grabbed her daily letter, clutched it
like the answer key to the ultimate final
then I sped down M-27 toward home,
one hand steering, the other struggling to tear 
the envelope. Sheets folded in fat promise.
My eyes swayed into a metronome: paper, road,
paper, road. In three hours I'd be holding her
but I could have died
reading what she ate for breakfast.

My old dog was dying. Watching him
was like that love. I slept on the floor
curled around him the night he died.
You can't explain about your pets.
People just nod and change the subject.

What country were we living in,
hacking through the tangle of phone lines
and junk mail? We kept our hands in our pockets.
We wore each other's faces on our watches.

She joined me at college the next year
and we broke up two months later.
Five shoeboxes full of letters.
I kept them under my bed.
I still have my dog's collar.

Listen, all I can say is
she had oatmeal for breakfast!
Oatmeal! I could almost taste it.


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