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Letter to Counselor Hildergaard

Paul Brennan

It was supposed be a lap
          around the tent for air, but

here, out in the sun ten centuries passed
          and we shook them off: your infirmary’s

herbs and leeches as treatment
          for burns, for skin shed classified

affliction of soul. Remember
          the craft table aflame? Our claim

a vision of God was needed
          for reference, for painting postcards
you said to mail home.
          You stomped that out.

The smoke though, still whiffs
          through my car each morning

commuting to work. It’s thick,
          but flameless as lake reflecting sun

that last day, split by our canoe.
          We always thought you knew

we pushed off overfull, let it go
          because He had let you go:

tenure scorched by prank after prank.
          Believe me:

out of reach of dock
          by paddle or limb,

you’d take the chance
          to strike a match, bend

a friends face with flame,
          peak through creation’s haze

and drop it.

           Tell Him I’m sorry.

Tell Him we miss you.
          That waking sick, we still

walk groggy to the garden,
          sniff homegrown thyme, basil

and bloodroot, before
          popping aspirin.

Paul Brennan studied creative writing at Ramapo College of New Jersey and is a librarian.  He is also an assistant editor at Small Orange.

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