Issue 22 | Summer 2019


I thought nothing of ripping out a page
from the little blue spiral-bound notebook
my husband keeps on the coffee table—
until I saw the imprints of previous words
he’d written in his usual capital letters:
the note he slipped into my overnight bag,
tucking it into my jeans pocket so I’d find it
when I put them on the next morning,
or the message he left on the counter because
I wasn’t feeling well, telling me he’d driven
all the way to town to buy the spicy lentil soup
now waiting for me in the fridge. His ghost letters
looped together and blended with each other,
but I could still make out the obvious words
like SOON and BABE, his exclamation points.
I’d meant to use the paper for a grocery list
but couldn’t force myself to mar the surface
of what now seemed an artifact: I held it up
to the sunlight and traced the places where
the pen-tip had carved his name at the bottom
like an ancient stylus pressing into wet clay
the oldest love poem ever found.

Filed under: Poetry

James Crews‘s work has appeared in Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review, and The New Republic, among other journals, and he is a regular contributor to The (London) Times Literary Supplement. His first collection of poetry, The Book of What Stays, won the 2010 Prairie Schooner Book Prize and received a Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Citation. He is also the author of Telling My Father, winner of the Cowles Prize, and editor of Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection, published by Green Writers Press. He lives on part of an organic farm with his husband in Vermont and teaches creative writing at SUNY-Albany.