I left an old suitcase in the dumpster a month or so ago.
The woman down the hall with a baby retrieved it. She
thanked me effusively each time she saw me. “No problem,”
I replied. “No problem” every time. She sat on the balcony
with her baby every evening that spring, showered me with
thanks each time I went out. I thought it overdone and began
to take the back entrance.
Letters begin to spill out of her box downstairs. I realize she’s
gone. The return address is the Leavenworth federal prison. I
hold those letters in my hands. They are from a man who has
penned the addresses, to and return, in meticulous blue letters,
full of the love it’s possible to will onto paper, at least what he
is capable of, from deep behind gray, ferro-concrete walls. He
traced over his return address to make it a deep, wide blue, to say
as much in ink as he can say without the letter being read, to ask
as much as he can, to be read.
I feel so sad. Only I am able to share his pain. I almost cry. I feel his pain. I feel her pain, not cliché feel their pain, but really feel their pain. My fingers grow uncomfortable holding those letters. Her baby often cried next door. I always tuned it out. Today I cannot. I really hear it cry.