Beloved, men in thick green coats came crunching through the snow, the insignia on their shoulders of uncertain origin, a country I could not be sure of, a salute so terrifying I heard myself lying to avoid arrest, and was arrested along with Jocko, whose tear had snapped off, a tiny icicle he put in his mouth. We were taken to the ice prison, a palace encrusted with hoarfrost, its dome lit from within, Jocko admired the wiring, he kicked the walls to test the strength of his new boots. A television stood in a block of ice, its blue image still moving like a liquid center. You asked for my innermost thoughts. I wonder will I ever see a grape again? When I think of the vineyard where we met in October-- when you dropped a cluster custom insisted you be kissed by a stranger-- how after the harvest we plunged into a stream so icy our palms turned pink. It seemed our future was sealed. Everyone said so. It is quiet here. Not closing our ranks weakens us hugely. The snowflakes fall in a featureless bath. I am the stranger who kissed you. On sunny days each tree is a glittering chandelier. The power of mindless beauty! Jocko told a joke and has been dead since May. A bullethole in his forehead the officers call a third eye. For a month I milked a barnful of cows. It is a lot like cleansing a chandelier. Wipe and polish, wipe and polish, round and round you go. I have lost my spectacles. Is the book I was reading still open by the side of our bed? Treat it as a bookmark saving my place in our story. (here the letter breaks off)
Mary Ruefle - 1952-
Ann Galbraith loves Barry Soyers. Please pray for Lucius Fenn who suffers greatly whilst shaking hands. Bonny Polton loves a pug named Cowl. Please pray for Olina Korsk who holds the record for missing fingers. Leon Bendrix loves Odelia Jonson who loves Kurt who loves Carlos who loves Paul. Please pray for Cortland Filby who handles a dead wasp, a conceit for his mother. Harold loves looking at Londa's hair under the microscope. Londa loves plaiting the mane of her pony. Please pray for Fancy Dancer who is troubled by the vibrissa in his nostrils. Nadine St. Clair loves Ogden Smythe who loves blowing his nose on postage stamps. Please pray for William Shakespeare who does not know how much we love him, miss him and think of him. Yukiko Pearl loves the little bits of toffee that fall to the floor when Jeffrey is done with his snack. Please pray for the florist Marieko who wraps roses in a paper cone then punches the wrong code. Muriel Frame loves retelling the incident that happened on the afternoon of November third. Please pray for our teacher Ursula Twombly who does not know the half of it. By the radiator in a wooden chair wearing woolen stockings sits a little girl in a dunce's cap, a paper cone rolled to a point and inverted on her hair; she's got her hands in her lap and her head bowed down, her chin is trembling with having been singled out like this and she is sincere in her fervent wish to die. Take it away and give it to the Tartars who roll gloriously into battle.