Letter from Athens, GA

Maggie Colvett

So much goes on without it baffles
every time I begin. I read, I go walking.
I take long routes past the elementary school,
the fidgety, nebulous line at the crosswalk
and the swingsets quaking and singing.
I learn the local birds. I stand in crowds
in roaring rooms or quiet ones, drink beer
or wine respectively and walk myself home,
remembering nights in the other town,
the one in Tennessee that I was born to
and thought of leaving every day there
and every day since. Home is a music
that ends. I’m always writing these letters,
you know that? Even when all I know
is the name they start with, even when
I write them out without a name at all.
You must think I fall back on the weather
when nothing is worth hearing, or else
I can’t tell what is. It's just that
I don’t know how to get closer to saying
the part of the air that eludes anecdote.
Keats described his posture at the desk
to George and Georgiana in Kentucky,
his books and burnt-down candles, the wax taper
with its long snuff. One time he proposed
they all read a passage of Shakespeare
each Sunday at ten o’clock. They had
so little time for being near. Life is good here
but I miss what voices carry. I work,
I keep watch. Home is a music that echoes
and alters, and starts again in other keys.
I know the voice I want to come back to
every time. I work and try to remember
it is building. Always most of the letter
goes unsent, though I give its address
with every, every word.