By Return

Letters, ducks, daffodils
and distant faces

decoupaged on an April day,
a hunch of bald mountain

inked above cottage roofs,
words about rituals I well know

swimming round this mill pond
with all the events I’ve missed –

a new life, a new union,
at least two deaths – all proven

in newsprint – and a divorce
(whispered in brackets),

embellished in familiar script:
you were missed terribly.

The light here is less distinct
though, the clouds closer,

the news slower,
and what proof do I have, now,

to send by return post?
There are only these black smudges

rubbed on too-pale skin,
a faint tartan pattern and

vowels not so broad
I like to think are collaged

over what was there before.
But of course there are abbeys

and flowers on postcards –
no trace at all of winter dark –

and this is what I send.

– Jane Frank