#113

lorenzo mattotti1
2 poems by Ted Kooser

A Birthday Card
In her eighties now, and weak and ill
with emphysema, my aunt sends me
a birthday card—a tossing ocean
with clipper ship—and wishes me well
at forty-four. She’s included
a note—hard-bitten in ballpoint,
with a pen that sometimes skips whole words
but never turns back—to tell me
her end of the news: how the steroids
have softened her spine, how
every X ray shows more shattered bone.
Her hasty words skip in and out,
their little grooves washed clean of ink,
the message rising and falling
like short-wave radio, sending
this hurried S.O.S., with love.

A Letter In October
Dawn comes later and later now,
and I, who only a month ago
could sit with coffee every morning
watching the light walk down the hill
to the edge of the pond and place
a doe there, shyly drinking,

then see the light step out upon
the water, sowing reflections
to either side—a garden
of trees that grew as if by magic—
now see no more than my face,
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,

startled by time. While I slept,
night in its thick winter jacket
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness
that creaked like a cricket, and turned

the water garden under. I woke,
and at the waiting window found
the curtains open to my open face;
beyond me, darkness. And I,
who only wished to keep looking out,
must now keep looking in.

More art by Lorenzo Mattotti here.
Recommended listening: This Year’s Love – David Gray
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