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Close to Closure

Say someone dies and leaves an envelope

buried in her underwear drawer, sealed

and carefully inscribed: to be opened


after my death. Imagine the usual

sentiments inside – regret and gratitude,

perhaps not a complete baring of the soul,


but a distinct voice, at least, an attitude

you’d recognize – until you reach the slight

slights and buried barbs – grievances that allude


to you. The last word’s not the only word to last –

still, it would be nice if the words inside

of letters were as mutable as the letters


inside of words – if we could set aside

those hurtful asides – or turn them into clauses –

watch how the intent would shift from incite


to insight if even if we weren’t that close

slid to the beginning of the sentence –

the even if evened out in the closing.


Or what if we switched the tense – to not tense?

Oh, I know we can’t change what words mean

but we do have means to negotiate distance –


measures to slow us down, marks that demand

separation – so that for a few seconds

we might step back and with a clear mind


observe our surroundings through a second

lens – all that guilt that had just enveloped

us, suddenly feeling sealed off, contained.

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