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"Eyes Only"

by Linda Pastan

Dear lost sharer
of silences,
I would send a letter
the way the tree sends messages
in leaves,
or the sky in exclamations
of pure cloud.

Therefore I write
in this blue
ink, color
of secret veins
and arteries.
It is morning here.
Already the postman walks

the innocent streets,
dangerous as Aeolus
with his bag of winds,
or Hermes, the messenger,
god of sleep and dreams
who traces my image
upon this stamp.

In public buildings
letters are weighed
and sorted like meat;
in railway stations
huge sacks of mail
are hidden like robbers' booty
behind freight-car doors.

And in another city
the conjurer
will hold a fan of letters
before your outstretched hand—
"Pick any card. . ."
You must tear the envelope
as you would tear bread.

Only then dark rivers
of ink will thaw
and flow
under all the bridges
we have failed
to build
between us.


Linda Paston "Eyes Only" is an epistolary poem (a poem in the form of a letter) written for an unreachable addressee. It attempts to rectify a failed relationship through the imagination.

The recipient of many honors and awards, Linda Pastan is the author of twelve books of poetry and essays. A resident of Potomac, Maryland, she served as Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991 to 1995.

"Eyes Only," from Waiting for My Life © 1981 by Linda Pastan, used by permission of the author and W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.