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  • Writer's pictureSusanna Lang

Night Letters

Updated: Jul 24, 2019

I cannot tell if the day is ending, or the world, or if the secret of secrets is inside me again.

Anna Akhmatova

Written on the undersides of leaves, along their veins;

written on the thin sheet of water laid over stones in the creek; (stanza break)

laid down with the saxophone track on the album 

Sonny named for those telegrams with the special 

night rate, 50 words for the price of 10—

the news you waited all night to read, or the news 

you dreaded each time you answered the door.

Written on the back of an envelope returned as undeliverable 

and then folded and forgotten in a pocket, sent to the wash.

Nailed to the door, for you to find in the morning, 

when you finally understand what woke you in the night

and what could come pounding at your door another night. 

What he wrote in response, what she revised and copied herself, 

what anyone left in the mailboxes of those who would know 

what to do with it, who would know to recopy what had been written 

and pass it on, mailbox to mailbox through an unbroken series of nights: (stanza break)

I’ve written down the words that I’ve not dared to speak.

Left as a clue to the location of what was buried 

decades ago, so that someone else can brush the light crumbly soil 

from these bones, reconstructing what happened at the very end, 

what was nearly disappeared.

First published in Little Star and then in Tracing the Lines (available from

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