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Letters by Guy Cranswick

Here I am, twenty hours in the air, staring down a row of seats. My mind is a freeway: speed and light and thoughts. The journey should empty it. Everyone on this plane is full of food and drink and sleeping. Out of the window stretches vast endless space. I need a book to take my mind away. But along with the roar of the engines I have you for company. I read your letter slowly the first time; then I read it again. I have two more, still in their envelopes which I picked up at the last post office, with the contracts. On that afternoon I was late and frantic to leave, and the place was filled with slow pensioners. The mailbag was lost in the back room of the small post office. When I read your letter, again, I believed I had neglected you. It was something I read into your tone. Perhaps I have made that error too often, over many years. It is my mistake. I know: that is something that silts up between people over time. That feeling that I have neglected you is here with me on this plane. A little guilt can be good. By now I will admit that we only know each other now through mail. When I enter a post office I hope there is just one letter from you. This is the first time in four or five weeks I have had the space to read. I realize why you sent me a letter. If you had called me on the phone, I would have balked. Distance is made greater in a letter; a speaking voice can never be deceptive, even when full of lies. You say it was dawn when you wrote, and you want me to come home. Your letter is like a strained and ideal version of yourself. Maybe it is the subject that has erased you amongst the plans and lists of facts and statements. The day has come; the farm is going, the land and woods; the place where we grew up; the place where our parents lived until last year, and now it is going. You are clear about the contracts, the tax, the administration, the lawyer, and the other things too small and necessary to mention. It is all a burden. The land will be sold: then the buildings cleared and leveled to make way for the ever sweeping prairie of lawns and houses. The farm is imposed on who I am, it is native to me. I wish it was otherwise. I am angry, I am sad. Do not listen to me. With the page in my hand, I am mumbling your words under my chin and simulating one of our conversations. I remember the last time we spoke, before I caught the train, with minutes to spare. You spoke in a torrent and louder above the crowd as I listened, my arms crossed, unable to say anything to you and distracted by thinking about the train journey ahead. Is it seven, or just six months, since we last talked? In that time I have not been able to use a telephone.

Profile for Burner Magazine

Burner Magazine, issue 01 (September 2010)  

The inaugural issue of Burner Magazine, which aims to take the boring out of the literary and arts scenes.

Burner Magazine, issue 01 (September 2010)  

The inaugural issue of Burner Magazine, which aims to take the boring out of the literary and arts scenes.

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