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Love Letter (Clouds)

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for B. H.

I didn’t fall in love. I fell through it:

Came out the other side moments later, hands full of matter, waking up from the dream of a bullet tearing through the middle of my body.

I no longer understand anything for longer than a long moment, or the time it takes to receive the shot.

This kind of gravity is like falling through a cloud, forgetting it all, and then being told about it later. On the day you fell through a cloud . . .

It must be true. If it were not, then when did these strands of silver netting attach to my hair?

The problem was finding that you were real and not just a dream of clouds.

If you weren’t real, I would address this letter to one of two entities: myself, or everyone else. The effect would be equivalent.

The act of falling happens in time. That is, it takes long enough for the falling to shear away from the moments before and the moments after, long enough for one to have thought I am falling. I have been falling. I continue to fall.

Falling through a ring, in this case, would not mean falling through the center of the annulus—a planet floats there. Falling through the ring means falling through the spaces between the objects that together make the ring.

On the way through, clasp your fists around the universe:

Nothing but ice-gravel.

But open your hands when you reach the other side. Quickly, before it melts.   

What did I leave you?

“Love Letter (Clouds)” from Siste Viator © 2006 by Sarah Manguso. With permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.
Source: Siste Viator (Four Way Books, 2006)
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Love Letter (Clouds)

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  • Born and raised near Boston, writer Sarah Manguso earned her BA at Harvard University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her books include the poetry collections Siste Viator (2006) and The Captain Lands in Paradise (2002); the story collection Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape (2007); the memoir The Two Kinds of Decay (2008), selected as an Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Sunday Book Review; and the hybrid-genre book The Guardians: An Elegy for a Friend (2012). Her work has been featured in several volumes of The Best American Poetry.
    Precise and boldly imagined, Manguso’s work is frequently a kind of unflinching self-portraiture created through lyric gestures. In an interview with SMITH Magazine, Manguso stated, “I am interested in deep alertness, and I think it’s possible to be deeply alert to moments that are already over.” In a Bookforum review of The Guardians, Jenny...

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