Original poetry by Jennifer Mills Kerr
She wrote him letters. About the time he read Neruda’s poetry to her when she was ill, the time he ran outside in the rain to fetch the chapstick from her car, the time he brought her daisies after driving to three florists in his search, only to discover they grew wild behind an abandoned farmhouse two miles from their home. She trusted their past. The memories in her letters steadied him, and with her words, his life felt more vibrant.
For a year, he returned her letters with postcards, writing nothing except his next address. He moved often, life snaking through back-country roads, as elliptical as her handwriting. Her words would find him wherever he went.
A letter had arrived that October morning.
When I was four, my father gave me a crystal rabbit. Translucent yet cloudy, the figure symbolized mystery to me, though at such a young age, I could not begin to give the rabbit a story. Instead, I gave words to my father’s gift, words that described how I felt: Hope. Pretty. Dream.
Today, Madeline Sharpton told everyone at school that I had herpes. She’s a mean girl, practically six feet tall, and that tall-ness gives her a weird authority in the world of middle school. All the other students believed her–including my so-called friends. I’m only thirteen, but it must be the worst day in my life forever.
I began thinking about life’s polarities: night and day, rest and work, questions and answers, friends and enemies. We have an endless amount of opposing ideas to juggle. But where do the blacks and whites blur into grays? Why or when does this occur?
Once I had my hair down to my waist, a gap between my teeth. I believed in the power of music, that it could change the world. My name is Charlotte by the way. My father used to say that I was too big for my britches. Who uses the word “britches” these days? Though Dad said that a long time ago–we’re talking the 70s. I’m an old(er) lady now, and Dad’s long gone.
We will always live in moments of uncertainty. I have no idea what the future will bring, not only for me, but for our country. The page, however, refutes uncertainty. It is a white canvas, destined for creation, and within its square space, holds the promise of an affirmation. Even while describing loss, our words are born, again and again and again.