Gloria Gilbert’s Love Letter to Anthony Patch

by Catherine Chiu

Miserable, lonesome as a forgotten child, she sat in the quiet apartment and wrote him a letter full of confused sentiment:

. . . I can almost look down the tracks and see you going but without you, dearest, dearest, I can’t see or hear or feel or think. Being apart — whatever has happened or will happen to us — is like begging for mercy from a storm, Anthony; it’s like growing old. I want to kiss you so — in the back of your neck where your old black hair starts. Because I love you and whatever we do or say to each other, or have done, or have said, you’ve got to feel how much I do, how inanimate I am when you’re gone. I can’t even hate the damnable presence of PEOPLE, those people in the station who haven’t any right to live — I can’t resent them even though they’re dirtying up our world, because I’m engrossed in wanting you so.

If you hated me, if you were covered with sores like a leper, if you ran away with another woman or starved me or beat me — how absurd this sounds — I’d still want you, I’d still love you. I KNOW, my darling.

It’s late — I have all the windows open and the air outside is just as soft as spring, yet, somehow, much more young and frail than spring. Why do they make spring a young girl, why does that illusion dance and yodel its way for three months through the world’s preposterous barrennes. Spring is a lean old plough horse with its ribs showing — it’s a pile of refuse in a field, parched by the sun and the rain to an ominous cleanliness.

In a few hours you’ll wake up, my darling — and you’ll be miserable, and disgusted with life. You’ll be in Delaware or Carolina or somewhere and so unimportant. I don’t believe there’s any one alive who can contemplate themselves as an impermanent institution, as a luxury or an unnecessary evil. Very few of the people who accentuate the futility of life remark the futility of themselves. Perhaps they think that in proclaiming the evil of living they somehow salvage their own worth from the ruin — but they don’t, even you and I. . .

. . . Still I can’t see you. There’s blue haze about the trees where you’ll be passing, too beautiful to be predominant. No, the fallow squares of earth will be most frequent — they’ll be along beside the track like dirty coarse brown sheets drying in the sun, alive, mechanical, abominable. Nature, slovenly old hag, has been sleeping in them with every old farmer or negro or immigrant who happened to covet her. . .

So you see that now you’re gone I’ve written a letter all full of contempt and despair. And that just means that I love you, Anthony, with all there is to love with in your