Epistles for a Winter Cleaning

Linda Malnack


L., I’m sending you a feather in a glass box because you always listen for wings. Remember the way in is from above. If you rub your throat a red-winged blackbird will roil out like the genie from a bottle and hand you three coins. Be careful how you spend them.

D., After the avalanche I was digging for myself and I found these, a heart of gold and the palm-print of an angel. Please give them to my mother, who will number them, wrap them in paper, and store them in unit 505 with the other curiosities I call my life.

M., Thank you for the framed print of the English countryside we were not able to visit in 1988. I’m giving it back now. It is still green, the sun at that breath-defying angle. Beyond a distant hillock I hid your white oxfords and the pink shawl trimmed with lace. Some dreams are best deferred.

R., I’m making you a gift of my lips, since you asked and I’m in the midst of winter cleaning. Meet me at the Coins at seven. In the vestibule between going in and coming out, I will press them to yours. We have stood for years inside this ache. Let’s go inside and watch the chef whip eggs and sugar and sherry into zabaglione.


Linda Malnack is the author of two poetry chapbooks, 21 Boxes (dancing girl press) and Bone Beads (Paper Boat Press). Her poetry appears in Prairie Schooner, the Seattle Review, Amherst Review, Southern Humanities Review, Blackbird, and elsewhere. Linda is an Assistant Poetry Editor for Crab Creek Review.


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