The Letter- poetry
By Marion Waterston, December 22, 2004
Did you write a letter?
I looked for it
I looked all over for it
If your desk, in your briefcase
In every pocket of your clothing
In strange places like the medicine cabinet
Even the refrigerator
But there was no letter
You didn't write one
And I wonder why.
It's one of the first questions survivors ask
"Did you get a letter?"
They must have looked too.
I recall how skilled you were with words
It was, after all, a part of your profession.
So I've agonized and tried to understand
Was your not writing in itself an unwritten message?
Did you fear, my love, that writing
Might sway you from keeping
That final appointment in your book?
Perhaps it seemed too rational an act
At a time when reason could not prevail.
Or, in some strange way
Were you trying to spare me?
Sometimes I wonder if you had written
Those last sorrowful lines
Would your hand have trembled over the words
The way my heart has trembled a thousand times
Since that soft sunny September letter-less day?
Marion Waterston survived the loss of two members of her family to suicide- her husband, Richard, a psychiatrist, forty-seven years of age, and her son Mark, a college student, nineteen years of age. Following the death of her husband, she helped found a group for widowed people in Rockland County, New York and served as its first president for three years. After the death of her son, some sixteen years later, she joined a group specifically designed for those who had lost someone to suicide. Upon moving to Albuquerque in 1995, she joined "SOS" (Survivors of Suicide) and for the last few years has been president of that group. She states that she's been aware of certain differences in the way she grieved for her husband and then, her son. Some of these differences are expressed in her poetry.