The Lufthansa Bird
by BABO KAMEL
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.