This is a letter. Like most letters, it is for a recipient we all call you. Like most senders hope, I want the recipient to smile. Smile wide: like an ivory gorge. The first thing most people notice are teeth: are they soft and gleam, or are they tartar-stained and sharp? This letter does not have teeth. It has holes. Lapses in what it refuses to mention: like how I remember how you taste, but how I cannot remember how it felt to taste you it’s been so long. I’ve been reading Jack Gilbert and listening to Leonard Cohen covers most of the past couple weeks. The last time we spoke, I forgot you had told me you were doing nothing for spring break. You’re almost through with college. I’ve already had my fair share of failures, but with plenty of room for more to spare. There is an elephant on this page. I keep trying to point it out, but it’s difficult to see through the forest for the single tree. I use the word we. There isn’t a we; rather, there was. Have you thought about becoming a photographic journalist yet? You taught me that the photo is not the thing itself, but the essence of the thing itself. Ce n’est pas l’amour veritable; ce n’est qu’une image d’elle. Even this is not a letter. It is too self-indulgent. Just as I was with your beauty. Now, I’m listening to Melody Gardot sing that my heart is, indeed, black as night. Azure black. Mauve or Indigo or Violet hinging on Scarlet. Can a heart stop because it drops through the chest and breaks? It feels like it. When was the last time you had really good sex? I wish it would have been me. I wish so much I feel like I’m losing my own magic. I think unrequited love does this to me. Makes me sour. Turns me back to water. I used to be sparkling wine and dazzle. I used to be Mr. Bright Eyes. Mr. Poet Pants. Mr. You’re Going to Take my Breath Away. Now, there is no us, no we. Hardly any memories for you to cherish. That’s why I write this to you. I’m asking you to hold on. Jack Gilbert says We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars. Jack Gilbert asks Would you go out in the middle of the night and put a bucket into the well so you could feel something down there tug at the other end of the rope? I say: if it meant I could drink and be full instead of knowing the pull would not last. I would ask you: have you ever seen a vase so beautiful that you imagine it breaking just to know what it might sound like? I am so full of darkness these days that, when I crack my knuckles, my bones spark. I want you to write this down, love. I want you to write this down. Hold on. Yes, the world has pneumonia and God is on vacation. Yes, I know I was not as kind as I was masculine. Yes, I know that promises stab us when we turn our backs to them. I just want you to know: if anything I could have been, I would have been better for you, not to you. I am as cracked as a Sahara plateau under an armada of starlight. But you can almost see God through these crevices. Like Leonard Cohen says, there’s a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in. This is no longer a letter: this is now a negative. Please, n’oubliez pas de faire l’art de vous-même – sois belle parce que tu es.
 French for This is not true love; it is only an image of her.
 “The Abandoned Valley” from Refusing Heaven
 French for Do not forget to make art of yourself – be beautiful because you are.
Samuel J Fox is a bisexual poet living in the Piedmont of NC. He has been published in (b)OINK, Maudlin House, and Muse/A Journal; he is forthcoming in Five 2 One’s #sideshow and in Free State Review. You can find him at www.samueljfox.com or on twitter @samueljfox.
Image: Ivars Krutainis