A Letter To Stephen Dunn

Good Letters | 8/16/2018 | Staff
red815 (Posted by) Level 3
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I’ve had to look away for most of three decades now—away from your work.

“Why.” That’s the title of a poem, a poem in your book Here and Now, I read this morning.

Part - Poem

“Because you can be sure a part of yourself is always missing,” the poem begins.

When I read your poems now, like when I read them regularly decades ago, when, for a brief time, I was your student, your friend, I discover a part of myself that, if not exactly missing, had been nagging to be recognized, acknowledged, expressed.

Woman - Woman - / - Imagined - Companionship

“If the imagined woman makes the real woman / seem bare-boned, hardly existent…” you write in “The Imagined,” and I nod, no, not nod, exactly, but soften, warmed by the companionship of a poem that knows me better than most people do, a poem that says what I’ve experienced but would never, could never say aloud.

At thirty-six, Steve, I married. You know this. I visited you once before the wedding. I said, she doesn’t read poetry. We won’t have that to talk about. You can find plenty of people, you said, to talk poetry with.

Inexperience - Poetry - Time - Fantasy - Name

I brought it up with you, her inexperience with poetry, because, at the time, I still had the fantasy of making a name for myself as a poet, and I thought it would be helpful to know if you thought marrying someone who isn’t as in love with poetry as I am might, somehow, be a hindrance to my fulfilling that dream. I also wanted you to still be my teacher.

I’ve been married to her, the real woman, for almost twenty-four years now. Often, she makes me feel good.

Woman—when - Covenant - Marriage

When I found her—my real woman—when I entered into the covenant of marriage with her, I said to myself: I know what it’s like to live single. I know the...
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