Features, Poems

Eric McHenry: “New Year’s Letter to All the Friends I’ve Estranged by Not Writing”

Eric McHenry teaches creative writing at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is the author of a book of poems, Potscrubber Lullabies (Waywiser, 2006), and the recipient of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007.

 

 

 

New Year’s Letter to All the Friends I’ve Estranged by Not Writing

I’m sorry, first of all,
for the impersonal
medium. It’s midnight and I’m spread
so thin I just about said spin so thread.
Sage came home with a strip of masking tape
across her lunchbox: PLEASE SLICE EVERY GRAPE.
And there again I’ve put a blameless child
between us like a human shield
against accountability, and then
acknowledged it. And there again.
As though by self-embarrassment alone
I might regress
into a truer self, becoming small
and solid as the last matryoshka doll;
as though that might redress
the failings up to which I’ve failed to own:
I’ve identified too closely with
myself, or with my sympathetic myth.
I’ve acted as though it were all an act —
the first of five — and called the fact
the brutal fact and failed to call
the fourth wall a wall.
And all while waiting for the world to drop
the dozen of us at a common stop
so you could keep me company again,
which would require the world to be a train.
The world’s a wheel. The world’s a rolling pin.
The world is spinning thread and spreading thin.
I can’t imagine what this goes to prove
except the obvious — I’d rather move
than mow. But you asked whether the address
you have for me is current. No. Yes.

~~~