LETTER TO MY OLD FRIEND, JANE RYALS

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It’s snowing today
but the flowers in our rock wall are still blooming.
Even the geranium you left with us is outside and alive.
So little snow this winter, local pre-teen Republicans
have bolted antlers to their football helmets. I saw them
running through a clear cut yesterday, above the drainage.
They were chanting in a language nobody taught them
that boils up inside them from another life.
It’s that kind of neighborhood.

You say the cottage Carol and I built from one April to the next
is beautiful and you hope we can stay living here.
Yes, it is built of April and of May and of the first two weeks of June.
I know I should be proud of it but I am not much.
There is no home for us anywhere on earth, no matter how badly
we want it.

Your husband, Mitch, has grown his hair long and tied it in a pony tail!
He has a new respect for women, you say.
I got a new respect for women in 1983 when my first wife left me
alone with two children to raise.
Not for her so much, but for the rest of you.
Mitch strikes me as someone who has always respected women
but maybe I am wrong.
I was raised to be that way, without an example as to how.
Certainly I loved my mother for a long time, though that time is now
long gone.
Still, at 97, God bless and keep her sleeping. Let her be pleased with herself
until the day she dies.

You tell me you don’t know my friend Freddy well.
Me either, although he is a nice fellow, artistic and erudite.
I am a mostly a nice fellow too, unless you cross me. My sword
hangs always ready in the old magnolia tree, a rusted sliver of moon.

“I have my third cold of the season… not a good sign. I think it is dust causing me problems… I can’t see house dust any more… so it doesn’t get removed. achooo!”

This made me laugh.
I remember well when my mother stopped keeping her house spotless.
I was 29 or 30, which means she was in her middle 50’s.
Starting to loose her mind, I thought.
Carol still keeps hers perfectly clean and coherent, except under the kitchen sink
and one closet, which are like Venezuela.

The snow has stopped. Guess I’ll have to take a walk in the rain.
Hope your day today is a happy one, Jane, and that you see
something beautiful out there in Kansas.

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