Tag Archives: country

Write a Letter

To an old friend:

Remember how often we’d write to each other, pen-pal? Your letters stamped from exotic places, arriving in the mailbox on sunny mornings. I would trot down the driveway to check the mail, sometimes disappointed with impersonal printed business, sometimes cheered with a wrapped message that promised to be a delight to read.

Remember how easily the words came in those days, before there was such thing as a word count, a “good story”, structure, and grammar? Pooh. In those days there were books. In those days we told each other true stories, and wide-eyed we’d read them like the most gripping young-adult novel, except- these were real, written just for us, for our eyes only.

We wrote to each other. We wrote freely, as we were moved to. Unsupervised, unrequired writing, pure joy. Before I knew that “it’s” isn’t possessive, and before I knew what paragraphs are good for. It didn’t matter. I learned, and my letters were plenty readable.

For years I wrote to you. You wrote to me. Preferring paper and pen to face-to-face talk, I would wander the hillside like Frederick the mouse, gathering colors and sounds, images of plants in the sunshine. I would bring them back, in my mind, my camera, my words. Forest air in my lungs, forest dirt on my boots, blackberry scratches on my knees, sweat on my forehead. Alone, I would gather words for my next letter, and when pen met paper I would tell you stories of the places I’d been.

Write back soon!

Love,
Your Pen-Pal

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Jungle

The old dirt path walked barefoot
blends to brick and dying grass
trees and shade to walls and lights
that eat into the night

The hum of summer’s insects
now planes glide overhead
starlight twinkling to headlights flashing
over smooth concrete

Away from green and growing things
a human jungle thrives
as many secrets in each face
as fireflies in the night.

Lonely Open Country

Cool glass presses against the side of my forehead. There are so many stars out there in the North, all around us. We’re driving along a ridge between rolling hills and valleys. The land is dark. Headlights are the only artificial light I can see, ghosting off reflectors on the sides of the road. I stiffen my neck, try to change position so that my head doesn’t wallop the window. Little success, but no matter. I’m determined to watch the stars and the empty landscape pass.

It’s a chilly Autumn night, and it’s so alone out here. It feels that way after leaving the dance, but it’s a pleasant, full feeling. The dark woods and the memories of whirling skirts and smiling faces remind me of past times I never knew.

Enter the barn in the twilight, yellow Christmas lights strung up under the eaves. Farm folks and others, but mostly farm folks, have gathered from miles around to this barn in the middle of nowhere. They’re gussied up in their overalls and old-fashioned dresses. Everyone’s talking, and slowly, everyone finds a partner. That’s the hardest part. Once paired, we walk out onto the cement dance floor. It’s an open-sided barn with yesteryear’s hay still scattered around in clumps. The dancers wait for music, some patiently, some impatiently. Finally, the MC grabs the mic. The band is tuned up and ready. The music begins, and boy is it lively.

My flats slip on the concrete as I skip around the outside of the square. I nearly fall a couple times that night. Dumb shoes. It’s great fun. After a few dances my feet hurt from pounding the concrete floor, but I never sit out if I can help it. I came here to dance, and dance I shall.

Music echoes in my head on the ride home, head bumping against the glass, riding through lonely open country.