Where did all the sighs go?
The love that would last forever?
The tears that stained the letters?
The everlasting? The undying?
The eternally yours? The initials
we wrote on the back of envelopes?
SWALK, OXO, PHTR, RLN, ILYE,
ICWTKY, or was it ICWTMLTY?
I forget so much. But I do remember
how the windows steamed up
in your mother’s car when we sat
together for hours with nowhere to go
and nobody around to disturb us.
Combe Dingle, Wotton-Under-Edge,
Weston-Super-Mare: these were our
favorite places, do you remember them?
Just being together was more than enough
to keep us happy. We don’t hold hands
anymore. It’s not something grown-ups do,
especially in front of the children or the late
night news. Nor do football games inspire
passion and send us into ecstasies the way
the white spot did as it lit up your mother’s
TV, with us alone, and her asleep in bed.
There are so many things packed into this poem, old things, perishable things, memories that will vanish, if they haven’t vanished already. Who now remembers writing regular letters, not e-mails or e-cards? Who remembers sealing them, perhaps with a loving kiss? Who remembers rushing to the front door as the postman pushes letters through the letter-box to see if the beloved has written back? If you didn’t go to a boarding school, you will know nothing about the 11:00 am break when we rushed back to our houses to go through the mail and see who had written. I’ll never forget those perfume-soaked envelopes I received from the local village girls. Nor will I forget a wrathful house-master, my scented letters stuffed up under his nose, sniffing at my letters like a bloodhound tracking me down.