To hear Ellen Bryant Voigt reading "Last Letter," click
A proper interval, and then
you must love twice as hard, and fast.
I dreamed it years ago, more
a feeling than a plot-line: I was
invisible and watched it all:
everything the same, the house
our house, children, the shape of the days.
It was summer in the dream, late
dinner on the screened porch, so what
if another woman made the soup,
the salad. I also watched by the bed—
you stroked her with your broad left hand—
and watching, thought: she ought to be glad
I'd broken you in. And felt a rueful
tenderness. And thought, or felt,
she looks like me—and so the dream
pleased me with its flattery.
But now I think, better what
you didn't have, and recommend
pliant and serene, perhaps
a little blithe. That bright morning
after the dream, the dream rushed back
only when I had stood, unthinking,
in the hot shower, and at its touch,
wept, like blown glass shattering,
before the narrative, remembered,
told me why. My weeping's done.
You will have the harder task,
it's true, but don't you see? Your need
will be your tribute, my legacy.