Published on Academy of American Poets (

Love Letter to a Stranger

Tell us of a bypassed heart beating in 12C,
how the woman holds a stranger’s hand
to the battery sewn in beneath her collarbone,
and says feel this. Tell us of the man’s ear
listening across the aisle, hugging itself,
a fist long since blistered by blaze.
Outside, morning sun buckling up.
Inside, twitching bonesacks of bat, birdsong
erupting as light cracks the far jungle canopy.
Ten thousand feet below ours, a grey cat
tongues the morning’s butter left out to soft.
Last night we broke open the sweet folds
around two paper fortunes. One said variety.
One said caution. The woman in 12C would hold that
her heart needs its hidden spark, but the man shows
how some live the rest of their lives with half a face
remembering its before expression. Who was it
that said our souls know one another
by smell, like horses?


Copyright © 2013 by Jenny Browne. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 9, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"Whenever I struggle to feel connected to the other human travelers that share this planet, it helps to remember that we all get to (have to) live inside these variously broken (beautiful) bodies.   Whatever I pretend to understand about intimacy and distance (and about poetry) starts there." —Jenny Browne  


Jenny Browne

Jenny Browne is the author of Dear Stranger (University of Tampa Press, 2014). 

Date Published: 2013-10-09

Source URL: