Dear Marina

(This story was originally published in the Kind of a Hurricane Press anthology called Petals in the Pan (2015))

November 11, 2014

Dear Marina,

I’m sending you a few particulars which may trace the way I feel about certain things right now. A line which, I think, flows straight to you, Mari.

A wondrous article, weather reports, a travelogue. Fiery leaves and a snippet of verse.

A naturalist writes about witch hazel, which is blooming now. He says the flowers are golden, yellow lace. Made me think of you, the skirt you wore on the beach. The way it widened in the wind to cast a net.

Anyway, you’ll be surprised at the wonders he finds and the stories he spins out of the autumn woods here. Aphid homes and witches hats.

And more magic. Did you know that dowsers use witch hazel branches to find water? They wave wands of a kind the Irishman put in his poem—“I went out to a hazel wood/Because a fire was in my head/And cut and peeled a hazel wand/And hooked a berry to a thread.”

The fellow has the same first name as me, and he’s going to use the wand, the thread and the berry to fish. He’s going to catch something like a girl. All of it makes me wonder if I caught a girl or she caught me, which I suppose is the mark of a great poem.

Anyway, do you think we can keep this going? I’m putting it out there. I’ll be thinking about heat, wind and water until it’s summer here again or better yet, until I travel to warmer climes, where you might also be— a place in the sun where we can fumble through the flora and pick spears of grass from our sweaty teeth.

I tried to work up a sweat today, raking leaves, bagging them, cutting back the shriveled hydrangeas and the butterfly bush. I tried to compose a letter in my head but felt that I was stealing everything I had to say from someone or somewhere else.

There may be snow by the end of the week. The trees are bare and the branches are daylight savings heartbreak gray. But the edges of the yard are fringed scarlet with the leaves of the blood maple tree you liked so much when it gave us shade.

The leaves are fire, their shapes are almost stars. I’ve placed some in the envelope, for heat and light and all the good things I wish for us.

I’m trying to keep a level head, but there’s the lace and gold, the net I’ve fallen into and the smell of all those roses by the sea.

Please be well and write soon.

Yours always,

Aengus

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