698: Morning Freight
698: Morning Freight
I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.
I miss letters. Real letters you could open and unfold. An email isn’t the same, is it? An email requires an urgent response, it contains a deadline, a to-do list, it asks for a quick and short response. But a letter exists in a different world, the world of intention, of patience, of long loops of cursive, or even the short clipped font of the typewriter. The way even the handwritten name on the envelope, on the outside of the letter, feels intimate.
For a world that demands immediacy and convenience, the slowness of letters feels like a rebellion. I learned to write by writing letters in my early teens. I loved writing notes to family members and receiving a note back. I loved how writing a letter gave you the opportunity to reflect on how your day was, on what was important in the world around you. For me, writing letters became a way of figuring out who I was on the page.
Then, of course, there’s the unanswered letter, the one that sits on the desk or gets lost in the shuffle or worst of all never shows up at all. Those were always my least favorite films or stories, the one where everyone’s life is ruined by someone not receiving one single letter. I’ve been that person that decided not to answer a letter. I’ve also been the person waiting for a response that will never come. Maybe that’s why I write poems. They are, in some ways, letters to the world, slipped under the door, not demanding a response, just asking to be opened.
Today’s ethereal poem ponders an unanswered letter, and the way in which we move through the world with our own expectations of response and connection.
by Sophia Terazawa
True, that buck knife spun a little farther from its track surrendering to powerful devices made available by season. Thus you spoke of dancing. And the Baltic Sea you placed in tiny glasses what you knew of Kosovo and how our students marched unarmed, a hyperbolic truth our maps could make from desert time or even how this tongue misplaced aboard a train could cry despite its repetition. Or that switch with- stood our better siege. And holding to this parcel, what you tore in 60,000 pieces from your father winking on then off—so write to me he begged—would make of him a mourning. True, that carving light and scattering of voices glinted off the blade and forged a current with its weight. In spite of that, you wrote to me then gasped along a skyline going out and out and out until even this engine disappeared. I ran after and saw your face among the ashen faces once again so write to me I said. Or write to him of cobble- stone or paint along the walls that streak of light and cities red and red and cattle staring out their slats and grates of silver and those Alps a little farther from the track before your father sent out one more letter every summer. Would you answer then? Or would I need to wait?
"Morning Freight" by Sophia Terazawa. Originally published in Sepia. Used by permission of the poet.