Touching your goodness, I am like a man Who turns a letter over in his hand And you might think this was because the hand was unfamiliar but, truth is, the man Has never had a letter from anyone; And now he is both afraid of what it means And ashamed because he has no other means To find out what it says than to ask someone. His uncle could have left the farm to him, Or his parents died before he sent them word, Or the dark girl changed and want him for beloved. Afraid and letter-proud, he keeps it with him. What would you call his feeling for the words That keep him rich and orphaned and beloved?
Reprinted from Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems by William Meredith, published by Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press in 1997. Copyright (c) 1997 by William Meredith. All rights reserved; used by permission of Northwestern University Press and the author.