James Wright, I am tired of renting my life, and of the leaves I do not rake on the lawn I do not own. Though I have a magic phone that knows how to find my global position and contains 116 visions of my vivid, bright children and 7 recordings of the same Bach Suite for Cello I never tire of. I miss the home where my children live, though I’m glad of the mortgage I lack. When the hawk in the gray sky of my head dives at the prey scurrying out from my past, I slip hands (I once believed I controlled) over the lighted screen to call a free woman I love. Wraiths, I say, hovered, all night. Beneath her digital breath, so steady and audible she could be near, if she could, I hear: “No. They do not own your head.“ Which also I fail to possess. Nor do you, though I’ve kept you there for years. Your hammock, borrowed, lines strung slack across my memorial, unmown yard (also the dense brown thatch full of rabbits and voles in the medians of roads the dead men built for me to skitter down) forms God’s loose net to catch and release my lazy literal-minded ass while I text hundreds of letters to children and lovers, while I upload the thousands of pixels of color I keep taking on loan from the sky.
—for John Ballenger
First appeared on a postcard to John Ballenger, and then in Relief