Letter of Resignation

Good luck in South America. I hope the duke appreciates your work
and they have the kind of ham you like. Good luck with that tire. It hasn’t
been the same since you ran over the fireworks I left in the driveway.
Good luck

getting your book jacket printed on time in the right shade of ocher.
Good luck finding a date for the opera. I’m sure it won’t be hard
what with your hair like that and a miniseries in the works. If you see
my earring

leave it on the nightstand and water it daily. It shouldn’t give you any trouble.
If you wake up in the desert, drink gasoline. It will save your life, if only
for a day. If I haven’t left by now it’s just because I don’t like the look
of those birds.

If you get this note, tear it into pieces before you read it. If the wind picks up,
scatter my ashes at the border. I’ll sweep them later. If it’s nighttime
when you get to Buenos Aires, go to the nearest train station and pray
for the rains to hold.

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Alice, 1978

The night after graduation we stopped
at Steak ‘n’ Shake, ordered
brownie nut sundaes, then drove
one blind turn after another to the dry
River des Peres, a channel so far
from where we’d come that we gave up
figuring out which direction to go
or even whether we were still moving,
when your foot slipped on the brake
and the pavement ended, and you lifted
your perfect wasp chin toward the hill
to see the seminarians drift down, smiling
the way strangers do at strangers
who are lost and mean no harm.