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For Those Who Have Everything, Say It With Concrete

I have been lost before, but not with this many broken bones,

and I had a brighter torch. If you were lying in wait in a cave

like I am, right now, in the darkness, and you didn’t know

when the next sandstorm would be, and you didn’t know

if the next morning the war would start, and you didn’t

know how long your torch would last, would you still

write letters with your only hand that wasn’t useless?

Yes. And let’s say that at this point you still believe

that the person who has promised to come back

for you is coming. Let’s say you haven’t started

to wonder about your flare gun yet and what

it’s good for inside the cave. Can anyone ever

foresee that they will end up like this, in love

with a faceless, amnesiac cartographer?

I have learned from the Sahara the necessity

of white dresses and small airplanes. They didn’t

think I belonged, but I waited my whole life to see

the ancient drawings of the ancient people swimming

in the ancient place. I was not in Italy, swinging

from a chapel ceiling. I was not in Cairo, bathing

in a claw footed tub, because that hadn’t happened

yet. I was just in love with the one person I wasn’t allowed:

you, who I write letters to while I hemorrhage to death

in a place that no one knows exists. It is not on any map.

The map has not been made. I am starting to think that

the only way I’ll ever be found is if you, the cartographer,

trade your topographical secrets, your photographs, your

name, to the Nazis in exchange for a jeep. Please. The light

is fading. If you can’t tell, the picture I drew in the corner

is of a scorpion in an amulet on a chain I wear under my dress

near my heart. This place was once water, but now

it is sand. There is so much I want to tell you, but

I have not eaten in three days and the fire you built

is just cinders. You once asked me how I could be married

to him, but look who died and look who lived; look who I’m

drawing pictures of scorpions for. I can’t feel my legs.

I don’t think you’ll be back in time. Listen: after

you read this, you will be burned in a terrible accident.

You will forget my name and the shape of the land

you spent your life’s work learning, but you will

never forget that you left me to die. My light

is gone. I am writing to you now in the darkness.

Leigh Stein

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