By Carolyn Davis


First, choose expensive stationery

(this will make the receiver feel guilty).

But if you truly aim to wound,

the cheapest card cuts best.

Then write in your finest, most illegible cursive

(for a dose of panic to the heart).


This is how I write to you,

and I expect a reply following every present—

Christmas, birthdays, the odd Halloween

(love is often expressed with stale candy;

the more unpalatable, the better).

Fill your letters with desperate gratitude and love,

(things which should never be mentioned out loud).


If you mean to visit me

(twice a year is an acceptable average),

be sure to send a letter in warning.

Labor over details like

arrival and departure times,

meal expectations,

anticipated activities.


(This will give me time to clean the carpet.)

Take note that I am not available to visit

on Saturdays. I devote the time to my collection

of European glass

which demands nothing more from me

than a weekly dusting.

Objects keep you company longer

(so remember to treat them gently;

people are made of harder stuff).


After dusting comes the diligent cleaning

of the knickknacks and baubles

arranged carefully around the house

(don’t touch!),

the importance and meanings

of which I forgot long ago.

Still, they are less demanding than the carpet

(start in one corner and vacuum your way

out of the room, taking care not to muss

the straight lines made by the vacuum).

Less demanding than the grandchildren

who play there.


In return for your letters, your warnings,

your considerations for my habits,

I will greet you with a smile,

take your hand briefly,

and talk of the weather

(the sudden cold has frozen my tomatoes).


I will fuss over a tasteless meal in the kitchen

while you quietly wander the house,

admiring the stained glass,

the walls flushed with their glowing shadows,

the shining, meaningless ornaments

on their perches next to your school picture,

the impeccable lines in the cleaned carpet.

You will stand there at the edge,

extend one booted foot, and plant an impression

in the fuzzy mauve sea.

I won’t notice it disrupting the strict order

of my house by reminding me of you

until you take your leave,

when I let you press a kiss to my chalky

diabetic cheek and remind you to write.

About Carolyn Davis

Carolyn Davis currently lives in Utah Valley and works as an SEO specialist, but she would rather spend her time writing and reading. Last July, she graduated from Brigham Young University - Idaho with a degree in English. Her work has been previously published in JuxtaProse Magazine.

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