Love Letters

By: Susan Browne

autumn leaves glitter in their brittling
someone plays the french horn on the shore
beneath the blue flame of sky the sound
like silver glinting across air like tinder

dear california
when I’m gone
will you still be here
will there still be a shore

someone stomps out of the reeds
holding a fishing pole
commands the horn player to stop
I walk by into silence

missing the music
wondering what else I want
on this hot november day
a cloud spilling rain

a voice that’s kind
not so many demands
not so many desires
I imagine mother earth is tired

our tumult & trash
our french horns & fishing poles
our eyelashes & elbows
our hands wanting to hold

dear humans
beautiful & dangerous
what will we do next
I keep thinking about love

about a man
who wrote to me years later
to say he was sorry for loving badly

he was a painter
& painted me standing in a field
of wheat wearing a yellow dress
& straw hat

like I was part of the land
the soft-gold dusk the wind

he sees me is what I thought
I was seen

& it felt like love
it didn’t last but what lasts
love lasts because here it is again
as I walk around the lake

we could have done better
we were learning are we learning
the water is low the color of slate
covered in crushed diamonds

the geese gliding
the hawk & falcon
the insects busy
building their empires

the snake undulating
across the road
disappearing I see you
dear vanishings


Susan Browne’s poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun, The Southern Review, Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, and 180 More, Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. She has published three collections of poems: Buddha’s Dogs, Zephyr, and Just Living, which won the Catamaran Poetry Prize in 2019. Awards include prizes from Four Way Books, the Los Angeles Poetry Festival, and the River Styx International Poetry Contest. She lives in Chico, California.

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