Bed of Letters

Propped like a capital
letter at the head
of what was once our bed,

or like a letterheard –
as if your old address
were printed on my face –

I’m writing you this note
folded in sheets you lay
on then, but sleeplessly

night after night, a man
whose life became about
the fear of being found out.

Rarely a cross word
between us, although today
I see the printer’s tray

of your brain, the dormant type
sorted in little rooms
to furnish anagrams,

fresh headlines, infinite
new stories in nice fonts.
Give her what she wants,

you must have thought, and brought
home seedlings to transplant
in flowerbeds, unmeant

to bloom into such tall
tales – which even you
can’t unsay or undo.

And yet it’s true that long
ago, two lovers dozed
naked and enclosed

one history between covers.
We woke and, shy and proud,
read our new poems aloud.


from Nothing by Design (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013), © Mary Jo Salter 2013, used by permission of the author

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Books by Mary Jo Salter