“Another Letter to G.” by Sarah Boyle

I was at your reading at the West Side Y My skin so pale my lips visible from across the room in bend-me-over

brick red my cashmere sweater so touchable And there were candles on the dim stage and it was so oddly romantic

though I assume they were going for something more like “intimate”

I had your book in my purse and some of my own drafty little bits of stuff that maybe you could help me figure out

Your poems my poems bumping against each other in the dark

Do you remember holding my drunk hand at the department Christmas party

I remember it made the grad students jealous or else I made that part up but I really don’t think I did

Of course I make you up fill in the blanks you leave in your poems with what I imagine I know about you from sitting at your seminar table

I have your books I love the tight control of forms that crafted loneliness that comes from being married and still living alone

I imagine you know how I pictured you how I pictured us in your spacious studio apartment where a tasteful watercolor hung nailed over the bed Oh and highballs

A man who writes poems like yours would know these things

Which is why I was disappointed I was at your reading and you were somewhere else

But I went home with my fiancé and we drank martinis from coffee mugs and I cried about my dad because goddammit martinis always make me cry about my dad

You know that too I sat there in your attic office hands shaking and glazed out on paxil and crying and I told you

I can’t write anything cannot make things good enough And I hid that shit from everyone

My husband writes poems too Poems good enough to make our loopy grad professor fantasize about finding a specific one on her pillow

That would have been a fucked up romantic gesture That poem was very sad Romantic but sad

Our life is like that romantic with the occasional evening of sadness or outrage

You and I have intimacy built on things that are real and built on things that we both made up when we sat alone at our desks and did what poets do

It’s an intimacy made of paper and ink and wild assumptions No shiny wet guts No romance

I couldn’t write this certainly could never deliver it if you had been there in your familiar but distant flesh at the West Side Y

That’s why my husband knows how I taste on different days at different times Why you only know this paper this poem

Sarah B. Boyle is a poet, mother, activist, and high school teacher. She is the author of the chapbook What’s pink & shiny/what’s dark & hard (Porkbelly Press), and her poems and essays have appeared in Lunch Ticket, Menacing Hedge, Entropy, and elsewhere. Following the rapes and assaults that ripped through multiple literary communities recently, she edited a series of essays for Delirious Hem on rape culture and the poetics of alt lit. Find her online at impolitelines.com.

Image: “1931 Rose Day Festivities,” from Albany Public Library History Collection

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