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Jim Daniels

Making a Case for the Letter

I opened the October envelope from Linden, Michigan
where my old friend Dave James resides with his wife Debbie
who I haven’t seen in twenty years though I did attend their wedding
in Detroit, December 1977, when I had a suspicious moustache and a shiny disco
shirt purchased for the occasion, one-too-many buttons unbuttoned,
and picked up a nurse-friend of Debbie’s and we ended up
in her car parked in her parents’ driveway trying to have sex in December—
unsuccessful, despite good intentions and slippery clothing,
yet I promised to call her before going back to college but then
my friend Jeff Parent called from Alma to tell me my autumn girlfriend
Pam Temple had died in a car accident in Colorado, asleep in the back seat
as her aunt drove/crashed—that fast, he said, to say something—
and I drove back to Alma though school wasn’t starting up for another week
just to grieve with our common friends and though we weren’t sleeping together
at the time I may have been the last person she’d made love with—
she was kind to my dog and all living creatures and I cannot tell you
why we broke up since our last conversation was about borrowed
records and Christmas plans because of course we would see each
other again in January and who knows maybe try again—
when I open Dave’s letter, a tiny yellow leaf falls onto my red kitchen table
because the leaf fell on the sheet of paper he was writing on
so he felt he should include it, and it made me think of that autumn
in 1977 and a beautiful woman with long blonde hair, tall as I was,
6’1 so we saw eye to eye, touched hip to hip, and danced
at a bluegrass festival in Remus, Michigan held on some guy’s farm,
and we made quiet love in the woods off the path in the middle of October
sunshine and held each other naked and warm on my old blue sleeping bag
and listened to the sweet whine of fiddles in the distance
and the world was spinning around our little circle of love
surrounded by tall trees, the wind gently dropping small yellow leaves
on top of us so that when she stood naked, her long blonde hair was speckled
with tiny leaves, and I thought for a moment to brush them away
but then just lightly stroked her hair instead, leaves and all,
and maybe I called her a goddess.
Debbie said her friend understood why I didn’t call back.
 In the car, after giving up, her friend and I had smiled and laughed
at the odd contortions of our lust and how we did not know each other.
Maybe we should just send each other envelopes of leaves,
eh old friend? I shaved off the stupid moustache and never had
an occasion to wear that shirt again—who knows the last time
we’re going to wear something? Oh, Pam,
long, long gone, the leaves still falling.

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