The Lufthansa Bird

A letter found long ago in a second

hand book by Kafka, lies between two pages

like the leaves my mother pressed in wax paper;

 

bits of autumn to hold us

through the endless winters of Montreal

so cold, you could place a penny

 

against the ice on the inside

window, and it would stick and imprint

a maple leaf or the queen.

 

But now, this letter kept as bookmark, or never sent perhaps

by the girl who signed her name Anna Martins

I find-- unpacking after the move south-- and read again.

 

I hold it in my hand like a newly fallen sparrow.

 

It’s been a week since she’s heard from him

 although he remains nameless. Just a “you”

on the blue onion skin paper; in the top left corner

 

the Lufthansa bird flies trapped in its circle.

It’s the eternal present and Anna says “I write

into an emptiness.”  This on a flight

 

from Vienna to Florence, October 1973. “I write

because I want to come close, although ce sont les letters

qui soulignent la distance.”  Letters underscore the distance.

 

She tells him how she listens to Joni Mitchell for consolation

and I imagine her listening to “A Case of You,” like we did

in my basement, touching each other like only 19 year olds can.

 

Those tender imperatives.

 

A month after you died I dreamt you called out

telling me you didn’t know where you were.

There is no distance greater than this.

 

Listen, Joni’s singing her heart out on the radio

while the Florida sun is burning us all.

by  BABO KAMEL
(for Marvin)
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