Dear Ophelia
Scott Whitaker

Dear Ophelia
Asthma wrecking my thinking today. During the night
I thought I heard your voice on the radio.
Remember how the dial broke when we had that fight
over Jackson going to the gulf? Bozo’s ghost is at
it again, I guess. Sometimes, I feel so weak over
the whole affair, I pull the cord. Imagine that!
Me, without a voice in my ear! What would
Danny say if he was still alive? You said in your last
letter you've been dreaming of sex again. I’m jealous.
My bones need juicy dreams. The postmaster
teases me every time I send you a letter. She says
I’ll write myself into a grave. Isn’t that strange?
The nerve. She’s older than I, only she has her
legs. Jackson is going over there, again. Imagine.
I guess you can’t. The drugs, you say. The trees
were at it again last night. They made a mistake
discharging me so early. You should be out,
not me. My skin is ashy gray. No more lotion
in the house. Not without Jackson. I won’t go
shopping on my own. I’ll be a leather couch
when you’re finally released. Kisses.
—E.

Dear Esther
My neighbor is a nasty woman. She tried to kiss me
in the shower yesterday! Imagine, dear. I can’t.
The memory of her pursed lips coming toward
me makes me weep. Only, I’m so dehydrated I can’t.
Peeing hurts, too. Drugs. By noon my brain will hum.
I do hope it’s blue where you are. I haven’t gone into
the woods in over a week. Doctor Robbins said
that was a good sign. A good sign, indeed. The woods
are tall and deep and sing to me as I sleep.
My head is too enlarged with medicine.
I must continue at another time, another day.
—O.

Dear Esther
Sometime in the night the trees rubbed their noses
against the window and asked me to tea. It was lovely—
the branches were a bit fresh, but friendly. And responsive!
How wind through leaves sounds like children’s whispers.
Conspiratorial, even. My word. What will we do
when the bark cracks from age and sun? We will
down pills and pie, dear. Pills and Pie. Pills and Pie.
My grandson is afraid to die and I remind him of
it every time he comes to visit. Which is why
he doesn’t come anymore.
Do you remember
when he used to perform tricks for us? I bet you do.
He said he used to steal your cigarettes. And you knew!
Vixen. Wait, the trees are here again. Virginia skies,
and the stars. They wring each night from their wet
clothes. Ah, father would be so happy we
are living in a land so cheap! The city would eat
me alive. But I’d be sane, I think, compared to all
noise bracing the wards. My goodness, the simple pleasures
of peeing in the woods, a bit damp, if I may say so.
—O.

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