The one time I wrote to Dear Abby by Sara Burant

The one time I wrote to Dear Abby

I wish I could say I hadn’t been drinking
Bacardi & Coke with Mary Bartolone,
her mom at work at Numero Uno’s.
I wish I could say later that night I hadn’t
dragged a Christmas tree found on a curb
into Linda Nicholas’ basement where
the party was languishing, at least for me.
I wish I could say I’d felt playful, elvish,
but it was really a lonely awkwardness,
it was really wanting something, anything
to happen while my best friend Mary
made out with Paul DeStefanis whom
she would love unrequited for many years.
I wish I could say I commandeered
the stereo, putting on the album Wish
You Were Here carried at all times with
a spiral-bound notebook in my corduroy
satchel—I was always wishing someone
was there—was it Dear Abby? Dear reader
was it you? The tree was a marvelous,
disastrous sensation, not some dead thing,
not Charlie Brown’s pathetic little tree,
it was fragrant & shapely, strands of icicle-
tinsel still clinging to its boughs. After
being expelled from the party, I wish
I could say I took the tree down to the lake,
a small but meaningful journey, to listen
to waves slap & glug against the ice,
the wave-action molding ugly figures,
one of which turned to us, Rumpelstiltskin
exacting a promise it would be impossible
to keep in exchange for turning the tree
into someone I could wish for, even love.
I wish I could say the letter I wrote
to Dear Abby that night was coherent
& graceful & that she wrote back
on her personal stationery in a flowing
script, the start of a long correspondence
which made those years a little more ok.


Sara Burant’s poems and reviews have appeared in various journals, including Ruminate, Spillway, Quartet and Spry. The grateful recipient of a 2023 Oregon Literary Fellowship, she’s the author of a chapbook, Verge. She lives in Eugene with a red heeler named Penelope.

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