Eyes Only

By Linda Pastan b. 1932 Linda Pastan
Dear lost sharer
of silences,
I would send a letter
the way the tree sends messages   
in leaves,
or the sky in exclamations
of pure cloud.

Therefore I write
in this blue
ink, color
of secret veins
and arteries.
It is morning here.
Already the postman walks

the innocent streets,   
dangerous as Aeolus   
with his bag of winds,
or Hermes, the messenger,
god of sleep and dreams   
who traces my image   
upon this stamp.

In public buildings
letters are weighed
and sorted like meat;
in railway stations
huge sacks of mail
are hidden like robbers' booty   
behind freight-car doors.

And in another city   
the conjurer
will hold a fan of letters
before your outstretched hand—
"Pick any card. . . "
You must tear the envelope   
as you would tear bread.

Only then dark rivers   
of ink will thaw
and flow
under all the bridges   
we have failed
to build
between us.

Linda Pastan, "Eyes Only" from Waiting for My Life, published by W. W. Norton & Company. Copyright © 1981 by Linda Pastan.  Permission granted by the author through the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc.

Source: Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1998)

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Poet Linda Pastan b. 1932

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 Linda  Pastan


Poet Linda Pastan was raised in New York City but has lived for most of her life in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. In her senior year at Radcliffe College, Pastan won the Mademoiselle poetry prize (Sylvia Plath was the runner-up). Immediately following graduation, however, she decided to give up writing poetry in order to concentrate on raising her family. After ten years at home, her husband urged her to return . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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