Mist Netting -- Laynie Browne

Your letters were sterling. Not enthusiastic. The letters disappear. Are late. Lately. I don't trust them. What if he/she isn't a good letter writer? What if the institution doesn't have a tradition of letters? Two to three-paged single-spaced letters. The letter arrived from the heavy hitter, meaning if so and so is the best candidate from the best institution he's the best (or worst) candidate in the world. One shouldn't write letters when one is unwilling, ungraceful, untruthful, emissive, or gnarled. A child should not write with a crayon upon the wall, or in plaster of Paris with one's finger. One shouldn't write when waywardly forlorn. A letter of introduction. One shouldn't desire letters. Yes, you should; you do, how could you not desire to touch them? Nor should one dismiss them. He carried only a letter of introduction, and a few coins. Her hand is very plain. A new way of combining superlatives. The desires of letters is to impress upon the reader a purpose or sentiment, to convey information, to draw a picture, to persuade. She was in bed scrawling by the light of a dim moon; her letters appeared to be animals, unruly and untamed, they disobeyed her again and again until she had to chain them to her hand, until they meant nothing. Love letters tied with string, hidden, carried, buried in a park, burned in a cast iron pan while reciting resolutions. He wrote to his father every day during wartime. She was shy about writing, so after struggling with the little card, she did not enclose it afterall. Another rushed to write after the concert, after the incident, after the meeting, after the breaking off, in anger or fearfulness, in isolation. Do letters themselves desire an answer or anecdote? She could not help herself, he was drawn to letters, drawn to write. In conversation she was often dull, unable to form thoughts or to speak, but in letters she grew bold and gained manners she could not perform in person. Are you comfortable, the letters asked one another, standing lined along a fence? Is that you I hear creeping along the limb? Piled in a corner, filed in the dark metal box. Spoken repetitively in the mind of the receiver, the respondent. Letters want to be read and not spoken, read silently and tearfully, read and shredded, hidden from other eyes. A man and a woman of letters. A woman and a man of letters consulted an alphabet fence and there they lived contentedly behind the borders of textuality. A girl of letters reads a book with pictures. A small boy of letters tears the pages. A smaller boy of letters chews the book until it dissolves. He points to the images (dat! dat!) demanding recognition again and again. Letters fall to feed the garden. Letters unopened, carried in a pocket all day until a moment of privacy opens.

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