by Jeri McCormick

To Charlotte, after the stroke

a letter unsent

I am coming to sing the old songs we used to belt
in twang-loud accents; I am coming to reminisce
about friendship’s genesis, sixty odd years ago

when the future was ‘out there,’ a mist less real
than our morning breath in the schoolyard.
I am coming to re-play fifth grade, trade secrets

in the cloak room, zip up jokes with snowpants
and galoshes. I, the straggly-haired kid
from the mountains; you, the prom-queen-to-be

in your waist-hugging curls. I am coming
to live again those row-lined days of reports
and recitation, penmanship and composition,

all the after-adventures, college and weddings,
jobs and distance, children and decades.
I am coming to be your gray-haired sidekick,

palpitate the hearts of bandy-legged men
out cruising in bathrobes and prong-tipped canes.
I am coming to pinpoint heroism in the halls

push your spoke-spinning chair
through memory’s doors. And though you
can no longer frame our time in words, dear Charlotte,

I am coming to speak for both of us.

-first appeared in Appalachian Journal, Spring/Summer 2006