February 4, 2010

Judith Quaempts

Address Unknown

Dear Michael

How many years has it been
since we were locked in one another's arms,
when your slightest touch set my heart pounding,
and all but stopped my breathing?
Army brats, we knew the drill,
we knew it had to end.
Wait, you said, just one more year,
we'll graduate, I'll find you then.
I knew the odds. Better to amputate.
Get it over with. Move on.
Maybe if I'd been less cynical,
or had more faith—but I wasn't.
I didn't. I chose the coward's way,
writing you to end it.
You called from boarding school.
You're all I have, you cried.
Michael, what was I supposed to say?
We were sixteen, you were 3000 miles away.
Years later, I tried to find you,
calling information with your name
and the last town where I knew you'd lived.
I woke your brother at 4 a.m.
He screamed, Don't you know what time it is?
I couldn't ask, afraid you might have gone
to Vietnam and not come back.
How I wanted to hear your voice,
say your name, tell you my heart
remembered all we had.
Into your silence I would have said,
I always loved you Michael.
I would have said, I hope your life
has been a happy one, then hung up
before you asked,
Who is this, anyway?


Judith Kelly Quaempts lives in rural eastern Oregon and is an active member of Internet Writers Workshop. She has been published in 50 to 1, Flash Fire 500, Drunk and Lonely Men, and T-Zero.

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