Return to Sender

A single letter envelope sits in the mail box,
the corners battered
and stained by travel and rain.

Across the front, the words:
in violent red, the color of her anger
and her overnight bag.

She’s been gone for a month now.

He wrote to her to beg for her back.
Her cell phone was sitting on the dresser, 47 missed calls.
Her friends knew where to reach her.
He knew, they knew he knew, but they would
take their secret
into her next life.

The letter hasn’t been opened,
but he knows the address is right.
They spent Christmas there every year,
along with her cousins whose names all started with K
and rooms filled with blonde hair and brown eyes.

Till now.

He didn’t cry when she left.
What does “I’m leaving” mean, anyway?
That she’ll be back by dinner,
by morning,
that she’s going to see her friends
her mother
or going to do the shopping?
Whatever she said–
what she really meant–
he didn’t hear her
and now she wouldn’t hear him

and the only thing worse than no reply–
he didn’t even say “see you later” or ask where she was going,
assuming he would always have later to ask her–
is having never been heard in the first place.


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