There are letters written and never sent. Letters composed aloud but never committed to paper. There are letters attempted and never finished. There are letters sent and never returned. There are letters still wandering, looking for a home. There are the letters we started too late or letters that arrived before their time. Letters that crossed in the mail or crossed purposes and yet failed to cancel one another out. Letters collected and now as out of date as the stamps on the envelopes. Letters sent in haste. Letters discarded and letters never forgotten.

There are letters sent to those who will never read them, letters that wait to be discovered, letters written as messages in a bottle for other times and other readers. Letters written in the dark and silent moments and letters written in bursts of light and joy.

Some letters are like talking in the dark in the car when the night is long and the way ahead even longer. When borders and boundaries are erased by the night and the sound of the road beneath the tires and nothing but lights and vague shapes left of the world that holds us back and holds us in. Then thoughts fly free and unfettered. Some letters flow like that. Father to son. Letters like that.

Some letters are like the silent conversations we have with sleepers or those who are close but no longer present.

The times when you were small and curled up in in a blankie there in a crib and I sat beside you and talked as you slept. Told you of hopes and dreams and places you will go. Father and child. Oh a bundle of letters like that done up with a ribbon and set in a drawer with a clove stuck orange and a cinnamon curl, a sprig of lavender dusty and pale. A stack of memories bundled like letters postmarked and stamped.

Some are written in ink on special paper. Written without pause or correction, written as you sleep, written for you to keep, written direct, no revision, no second guessing, no backspace bugaloo just a flow of thought from me to you. Written and set for you to find. Written to stand for a time and stand outside of time.

All I know is I write letters to bridge the silence margins that bound and bind. I write to discover, I write to remember. I write even if the addressee is unknown, even if they are returned unopened to sender, even if you have moved and left no forwarding address.

True enough, some end up scattered in a crumpled ring round the bin. In the days of the typewriter they were ripped from the carriage with a zing and crushed and lobbed for points scored but never recorded. In the days of pen and ink drafts were set aside in the bottom of drawers, or deposited in the cracks between floorboards, or used to start a more ordinary fire. But some few find their way, find their mark and live in me and you no matter where they end up, now matter how they find you.

And like the song says:

Letters I’ve written, never meaning to send.
Beauty I’d always missed with these eyes before.
Just what the truth is, I can’t say anymore.
‘Cos I love you, yes I love you, oh how I love you.

Writer, walker, poet, educator. Commercial fisherman, builder, donut maker, organic grower. Boston, U. City, Maine, South Africa, Madrid.

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