Letter Composition by a University Student (yr. 2043) This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 15, 2010
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I write to you from beside a darkened window,
Next to a bedroom curtain in whose creases settles dust,
Beside reflections of unwary, orange streetlights,
And a sash succumbed to verdigris and rust.

I write to you on the backs of faded essays,
From which had long since faded uniform old type.
Upon my knee the Aeneid, and upon Virgil
The letter, to be composed well into the night.

The ink is low, but there is so much left to speak of -
Indeed, I have not even yet begun.
The light bulb dims with each elusive minute,
And empty words thus fill the great white paper run.

Again I do not make headway past informal greetings,
Again I am reeled back to the monotonous front lines
To march with uselessness along the banks of rivers,
Along blank Niles, broad Yangtzes, swollen Rhines.

I give up later, hours into the darkness,
When lights are dead and determination’s followed suit.
What lags behind is only wistful thinking.
Across such distance, all words, regardless, do fall mute.

Again I keep a sentinel with but the streetlights,
And think myself to be there where you are.
I hope that you, too, sit out long nights, waiting
To see my semblance in the fire of the nearest star.

And all of this I ponder on in solitude and darkness;
The night has seen me think the letters I have never sent.
Between us lies the emptiness of leagues and ages,
Across which now old memories make their ascent.

Yet old memories will not launch flaming rockets;
Old memories will not break down the barricades.
And letters won’t convey genuine bearing;
From ink to darkness true sentiment does fade.

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