I.E. (From ‘Language’s Body’)
For long after we parted, I sent her letters on eggshell stationary almost the texture of tissue paper. It matched the delicate strength of her pale fingers. The letters were difficult to write and even more difficult to fold in half, out of sight. When I pictured her opening the envelopes, I also imagined her tearing up not her hands, but mine. If I had only written one, the letters would not give me anguish, but because I couldn’t stop writing and sending them, they haunted me. What would the letters tell, opened and juxtaposed sequentially? What, outside the moment, but over time, was I exposing? Without a response, I have no articulate answer, only the questions reflected backwards in the mirror.
The letters were simple expressions, not unlike self portraits. In that sense, over the years I took dozens of photos I’d never see developed. In the upper right hand margin I wrote the date. The proper distance down to the left hand margin, I wrote her name with a comma following, just grazing, the last letter. Then, leaving however much space felt right between, I signed my name in the center. If the letters were made into an animation, I suspect my name’s migration throughout the page would be the most telling. In one of the few I can recall clearly, I angrily scrawled my name over her own. In another, I signed the opposite side, all the way at the very bottom of the page.
I wrote in my journals about each letter, before and after–the rising desire, then need, to; the subsequent feelings of relief or guilt, worry or remorse, satisfaction or hope; but in these entries, I cannot see her breathing face the way I did when I wrote her name.