The Awaited Letter

is always penned at night,

not necessarily in stealth

but in a site or manner more

cherished and rare--privacy.

Much of it comes in single

cloud-bursts of ardour or

empathy; much more than ink

flows when it is written.

Then, only words on the page

remain and the pleasure of

being spent.  What actually

was written is forgotten.

Once finished, the writer is

anxious to dispatch it as if

its portents must reach their

favoured destination at once.

The eyes that read it over

and the hands that seal

the cover are wont to be a

trifle restless, impatient;

sometimes the stamp can be

askew, the flap soaked

in glue, or there's a minor

error in the address.

The act of actually posting it

is never innocent; prominent

post offices are preferred

for the security they induce.

But once in, it's out of her

hands; a certain feeling of

freedom follows but also a

familiar fear:  will it reach?

All night the letter lies awake

quietly, waiting, almost smugly

because it knows how unlike

it is to its pedestrian peers.

The envelope is picked up, marked,

sorted, flung, trussed up, tossed

hither and thither, handled by

so many during its long journey,

creased, sometimes stained with

greasy fingers, or damp and

smudged in the rain.  But inside,

the letter itself is intact,

a virgin, unseen and untouched

by any, snugly smiling in anti-

cipation of yielding itself

only to her rightful owner.

The latter already knows it

is on its way as if the sender

had kissed him in a dream

to inform him of its coming.

Yet a feline unease shadows him

as he awaits to repossess that

which he surrendered so suddenly

in a fond or foolish overture.

Waiting, even for what he

knows will arrive, is so hum-

bling; whom can he blame if a

promised missive miscarries?

While he cannot admit the eager-

ness of his need, it has already

reached his post office to be

dropped into his box tomorrow--

or else, it glows distressed,

like a radioactive particle,

in some godforsaken graveyard

of undelivered messages.

Having once reached, look how

teasing it can be, lurking

inconspicuously between all

sorts of junk-mail, only to

spring into his hands suddenly,

dazing him with surprised

joy, and making him shy with

pride, like a woman pleased.

Perhaps, the sender well knows

that both her hands and eyes

have left invisible traces that

rekindle themselves on contact:

some letters, like poems, must

not only be read, but smelt,

stroked, held, and even carried

like shy brides, to bed.

But life is not literature;

an awaited letter is habitually

never written; if written

it is often never posted

but recessed into that inner

wilderness which is awaste

with so many unlived or erased

wishes and sickened dreams.

Even when it is signed, posted,

and received, its comforts

eventually abate:  found,

the lost beloved is revealed

as the image of one's own

self.  Correspondents who

are experienced know that

somewhere the longed-for one

awaits every seeker; we watch

helpless as a strange magnetism

draws us together even over

the chasms of several shipwrecked

births:  how the received letter

works its magic fusing him into

into her!  Now the reply he must

write becomes the awaited letter.

Back to Selected Poems from Partial Disclosure

  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape