After you left I started writing love letters to myself. The kind of over-the-top things you would have said to me if you had stuck around. My god, I say to myself in the mirror, you’re glowing. Your hair a yellow stream full of diamonds. Your eyes Terabytes of Blue Data. A promise from space aliens. Instructions on how to build the color blue, in case we forget. I send myself nude photos of myself. Pictures where I’m looking myself directly in the eye, daring a response. Sometimes I worry I’ll get caught. Sometimes I close my laptop quickly so I don’t see what I’m doing behind my back. It’s tricky, loving yourself this hard, without anyone getting suspicious, accusing me of being arrogant or self indulgent, selfishly lavishing all this time on planning trips to Europe with myself. The hotel I’ll rent, the hats I will buy for my glorious head. I take time away from work to sneak myself messages. Promise crazy things. I’ll take myself on a cruise to Greece and Turkey. Throw whole olives in my mouth, the pitted kind so they go down soft. Grapes, peaches, all the stone fruit I can eat. Eventually this kind of ebullience gets old though. The pressure to be the recipient of so much adoration. I suggest a quiet night at the movies. Take myself to watch independent films. Pretend I’m interested even though I hate subtitles, and was never a fan of the French New Wave. Make an excuse to go home early, get enough sleep for work the next day. Anything to avoid my own company. I know something is off. It’s a distortion. There’s someone else I’ve been seeing. But I won’t admit it. Try to cover. The lies become tiresome. The effort to get myself to like myself this way. I miss the simple days of taking a road trip down the 405. Pulling over to the side of the road to stare at cows, or watching a butterfly land on my windshield while I’m stuck in traffic. At night I turn off the radio, listen to the sound of the earth. Crickets in bushes. Fruit falling and splitting against the ground. The sound of the earth, so quietly supportive. So casually giving me everything I’ll ever need. I try to resettle myself like the center of a Tibetan Singing Bowl. I spend whole afternoons in silence now. Tonight I will turn off all sounds, make a meal of lion’s mane mushrooms, morel spores mixed with rice, white wine, parsley and herbs, and then go take a long shower with lavender soap and spend all night staring at my reflection in silence as I pat my ordinary skin dry, and deliriously comb my hair.
In the Northeast the ice is everywhere, black and invisible. schoolyards are lowered by flags. The teachers don’t know what to do. When I arrived I was naïve as paper. A dress walking through snowstorms. You tried to warn me, there were not enough words to describe the love between a man and his money. Why someone would shoot a naked photo of a child. A classroom of kindergarteners, an insulting email to HR. I tried to pump the breaks. The screech of an empty bank account slammed me to snowbank. I thought I would be better. But I am only a girl. Break me in case of emergency. Be careful. When they tell you You are a match for any danger, You will be the one they strike. The newest thing they have to burn.
Tresha Faye Haefner’s poetry appears, or is forthcoming in several journals and magazines, most notably Blood Lotus, Blue Mesa Review, The Cincinnati Review, Five South, Hunger Mountain, Mid-America Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Radar, Rattle, TinderBox and Up the Staircase Quarterly. Her work has garnered several accolades, including the 2011 Robert and Adele Schiff Poetry Prize, and a 2012, 2020, and 2021 nomination for a Pushcart. Her first manuscript, “Pleasures of the Bear” was a finalist for prizes from both Moon City Press and Glass Lyre Press. It was published by Pine Row Press under the title When the Moon Had Antlers in 2023. Find her at www.thepoetrysalon.com.