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Jon Cone

How to Write a Letter to Someone Far Away

Wolves in your kitchen.
There are wolves in your kitchen.
You feed them gristle, bones,
scraps from the table, disjecta membra.
There they are. Wolves.
You admit it is impossible, these wolves,
the raising of them, in your kitchen
with its linoleum floors, its wood burning stove
and butcher's block, its washtub,
mice droppings, piles of dishes, garbage.
And then the deer come into your kitchen.
There are the wolves and the deer.
The wolves move stealthily
amidst the baby toys and moldy almanacs,
a ferocious light in the iron of their eyes.
The deer stand still, only ears trembling.
But you have dishes to wash and floors to sweep.
And there is the beauty of the wolves to contend with.
The stunned nervousness of the deer.
And the weeks go by like strung wire.
Every thing is getting larger.
Wolves, deer, baby.
How small the house is you come to realize,
how maddeningly small.
Where will the lumber go? The hawk feathers?
The drowned river?
How will you build the stone fence
from the living room to the basement doorway?
Where will you raise the monolith?
And the baby is crawling now, listing uneasily
toward the wolves as they lie breathing
in the dusty corner of the kitchen
they have made into their den.
As you make supper the deer begin
their early evening migration
from the front hallway to the mud room.
As the deer move they look warily at the rising wolves.
You ask me to wait.
You ask, how does this pertain to writing a letter,
how is this instructive in any way whatsoever.
I say, this is how it is done in my house,
this is the way to proceed, one killing thing after another,
fact pitched against fact.
The wolves in the kitchen and the deer in the kitchen.
Eyes full of iron and fear.
And you must remember always proper salutation and closing.
A beginning and an end.

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