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mail and poems

There are piles of mail that live on my kitchen counter. It did not used to be like this. It used to be I was organized and uncluttered, but now it seems there are piles everywhere. Piles in the car, piles on the couch, piles on the desk. I don’t know how they arrive; they appear to form without my consent and I walk by them and think, “Oh, right, I gotta get to those.” Then 10 or 20 days go by and they remain.

This week, I had the privilege of time and encountered one of the piles to find letters from friends. Real, pen-and-paper in-and-envelope-with-a-stamp letters.

I haven’t read that love languages book everyone quotes, but if I have one it is this. Letters. I write exclusively, emphatically, and unendingly to those I love. It is how I seek and find connection. Sometimes to others, sometimes to myself.

My girlfriends have been doing this for years. Their notes and cards live on my fridge and taped to my wall and today, I’m going to share one with you.

This one contained a poem.

I had never been one for poetry because the “poets” I’d met were self-absorbed pretentious jerks and I didn’t like them. Plus, every time I was introduced to what the world called poetry, I didn’t feel anything. “This isn’t writing, you’re just a snooty a$$hole obscuring your point to the edge of ridiculousness,” I remember thinking while doing my English homework in grade school.

I was annoyed that poets were considered the real writers. Somehow, that designation de-legitimized me. Which can tell you everything you need to know about my self-esteem growing up.

Then I encountered real poetry. And realized I was wrong. Very very wrong.

Poets are songwriters.



Which explains why we nonfiction folks don’t quite fit in the same genre. It’s music. The poets are musicians and they are singing and when they hit the right note, the reader has to sit down because you’ve been struck right in the heart with a beauty so bright you can’t see or a pain so real you can’t breathe.

All this to say, once I was a judgy jerk, and here is a poem my friend Emma sent me, by T. De Los Reyes that brought me to my knees (see below).

I hope it moves you the way it moved me.

May we never lose our hearts. No matter what life brings.

Stay soft,


PS: My friend Emma is a newer friend I inherited from another friend. You find the best people when they arrive pre-vetted by those you already love. The ones who are not just connected, but connecting. Emma’s been managing some serious health battles and still manages to find her light and spread it. Not in an overly chipper or toxically positive way, but in a way that reminds you why you’re alive.

We need more light spreaders. So if this poem moves you, share it.


by T. De Los Reyes

IT WAS A DISASTER on a gargantuan scale. I fell in love

with wonderment and have become as transparent

as a bougainvillea leaf. Here: sesame seeds embedded

in a cookie. Here: the soft center of a sunflower. Here:

the tiniest mole on your earlobe you didn’t even know

existed until I kissed it. I have nothing to offer the world.

Meanwhile, moon crescents indent my pillow and outside

an old man with no teeth is selling pineapples. Who knows

if it’s a pilgrimage of distance or years before I finally get

to myself. Who else have I allowed to hear the ridiculous

and faulty pendulum in my chest forming a rhythm of

shit shit shit shit shit. We carry within us everywhere

we have ever been: our bodies housing cities housing bodies.

I once stood breathless before a pagoda face-to-face with what

I can no longer deny. When I said I loved delirium I meant

your eyes. A cloud is a wound in an otherwise empty sky.

What if our memories have expiration dates and all the things

I feel are tickets flying around in a lottery machine. My childhood

is a city where tenderness was frowned upon, yet you are now

holding my body, whose shape is exactly what I need it to be.

I read the dregs at the bottom of my mug as if portents, as if

my ancestors’ faces, as if pieces of Pangaea torn apart by

the earth’s fissures. I call you my beloved in all the languages

residing in my throat, your name an ululation in every lifetime

we will ever be in. What is delight if not half of your collar still

turned up as you walk out the door, and wasn’t it an occasion

to touch. If they cut me open they will find words etched

deeply on my bones: Brown. Awake. Aurora. Woman

wonderstruck at being found whole after the wreckage. Ah, self:

thank you for not further collapsing into a heap after the untimely

discovery of the rest of your life. Hasn’t it always been what is fatal

and without pity. And hasn’t it always been about love.