The Letter I Never Send by Lisa Fay Coutley


always begins in error—dead for dear,
fear for terror, panic for dread. I mis-

use his moons to speak our violent birth
because to fill with fear is not to be

afraid. To anticipate danger is
not a sudden & uncontrolled punch-

to-the-throat response. It’s just in my blood
to footwork circles around the way two

rocks cut like pocked hearts, embracing one red
force, can orbit at such different speeds,

always turning away. The night you left
so close to moonrise, I anchored myself

to that last sky, staring into the sun
until the day had become an x-ray

where cumulus stilled & our moon sutured
itself to our lake like light from both ends

of the needle, piercing the same fabric,
living twice & dying once. Reflection,

though, is still just one bright point parted. Love—
so easily wounded. So quick to wound.

To cherish, to treasure, staring with deep
affection is not departed, over

& out, absolute. I’ll always tether
my desire to stay broken to you.



Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of ERRATA (SIU, forthcoming 2015), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award and In the Carnival of Breathing (BLP, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poetry has been awarded a fellowship from the NEA, scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize.