Henry W. Leung

—after Meg Kearney

I believe the letters
(“these are the most important letters
I write,” says R, “letters like the alphabet”)

in this box are all you’ll know me by.
I leave nothing else. Believe me,
I was no more than a hopeful

ideal reader my friends imagined
at night. I never did seek happiness
(“you’re sad,” says D, “aren’t you,

you’re an Ender, you’re a Bean, learning
to play life only to play it well”) but
I’ve found, in language, in this game

of symbols drawn from some desire’s shore
such a vast love that in every
writing I believe I sight the other

in me, the better, the perfect object which
(“you’re a coward,” says A)
(“you’re a con artist,” says A’s ex before me)

I might leave behind. Remember me
this way. I believe there’s nothing wrong
with being loved more than I can love, although

(“but somehow I feel,” says H,
“a better home with you”)
it means housing a new loneliness.

I believe my best nights were built
from memories whispered as though
discovered for the first time

(“I miss talking to you across the room,”
says C, “so this will have to do”)
and I believe you can’t know what I mean

but this might trigger something else,
something yours: a recognition, a lie
by which you’ll come to know me.

I believe in you. I believe you’ll write soon
(“there is no good reason,” says F,
“for why it’s been so hard to write”)

and I’ll sit by the mailbox knowing
something has changed, has come
into being, but hasn’t arrived: your words

are late. They’re too late to save me.
Yet every line is some salvation
(“something, always,” says K,

“consoling about these letters”)
so what’s it matter for whom?
Believe I meant to do more before

all this, that I never said goodbye
though I believe in goodbyes. This box
proves (“teacher chickenhead,” says N,

“be save, and come back soon”) I’ll be
leaving, constantly, by saying thanks.
I believe in California dim sum

(“point / heart,” it says in Cantonese);
I believe in falling through ice into mud
to the knees while suns shine elsewhere—

much more than time zones, I believe now
in snow: field after field of opaline snow
evaporating under sudden heat, which

is just to say “how many times in life
you grow close to people and then
have to leave them” (M). I believe

“I’m glad we’ve kept in touch” (S) after
my mistakes, and I’ll believe, forever,
in “one of the worst sentences ever” (T).

I believe the you who reads this is the same
who placed a turtle in my box to say:
carry your home on your back. It weighs

on my words. I’ll thank you one day
for your words—for your words—
though it won’t be enough, it will sound

like an apology, like the no-longer sticky note
on a birthday letter sent here seven months late—
“obviously the relevance of this diminishes

by the minute”—and I know, each year
I weep for this handwriting, that the line
is so wrong it needs my faith, needs a creed

built from what it, and we, could never be.