Back to Issue Forty-One

Dear Victoria,


After days of snow and cold and the bone
glow of a full moon,
the sun pushed its chips into the pot
and went all in.
It looked ready to gamble. Five small deer,
their tails like flames
of cotton, stepped out of the woods
behind my cabin this
morning, as though the entire day was an
invitation. By lunch,
the snow on my roof was melting so fast,
I thought it had
begun to rain. Within hours,
everything frozen
had returned to water, metaphor,
I think, for our
planet, which has made me think of you,
so close to the stars,
the curve of the earth some sort of
promise outside your
window. Maybe you are over Oklahoma
now, perhaps near Hinton.
Below you, my father’s body hardens
in the tiny skiff of his coffin.
Hello Mr. Rader, you might say,
as you wave to the blistered
grass, withers of wheat,
Your son is alive
in the woods of New Hampshire,
but who knows
for how long! I’m picturing now
your plane outside
the jet bridge at an airport in Texas,
the mystery lights
waiting to prove to you that they
like all our fears
are real.


Dean Rader has authored or co-authored eleven books, including Works & Days, winner of the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize, Landscape Portrait Figure Form, named a Best Book of the Year by the Barnes & Noble Review, and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry, a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. Recent work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harvard Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, BOMB, Ploughshares, Poetry Review (UK), and Best of the Net. His writing has been supported by fellowships from Princeton University, Harvard University, the Headlands Center for the Arts and the MacDowell Foundation. Rader is a professor at the University of San Francisco and a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry.

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