I’ve written so many bad love letters that it’s hard not to read Franz Wright’s “P.S.” and count myself fortunate for having stopped. His is an intimidating poem about intimidating issues. How to deal with the absence of a beloved? How to love when a life together is not truly possible?
The majesty of Wright’s poem lies in its mere acknowledgment of overwhelming emotion. That acknowledgment depends on no other action or communication or thought. It’s only a statement, perhaps to oneself, that “this is how I feel:”
P.S. (h/t @themoneyiowe) Franz Wright I close my eyes and see a seagull in the desert, high, against unbearably blue sky. There is hope in the past. I am writing to you all the time, I am writing with both hands, day and night.
I close my eyes and see a seagull in the desert, high, against unbearably blue sky—there has been correspondence, and at last, this image. Does the writer see his recipient as a seagull, far from beach and ocean, moving against heat through an empty sky? Or does he see himself that way? If there’s been a correspondence, then maybe the answer is both. You want someone you love to appreciate the way you feel about them. Strangely enough, this means if communication has been lost because they are not sure of where they are, you mirror that in not being sure about who you are.
Still, there’s hope, or more precisely, the memory of hope—there is hope in the past. The seagull may be in no man’s land now, but it remembers what it was like to be where it belongs. Similarly, we remember what it meant to be accepted and loved.
This thought makes time a creative agony. On the one hand, you have to let go completely. You’re not really writing to someone “all the time,” “with both hands, day and night.” That’s only your hope become time, your life seen as a clock: in time, you say to yourself, you’ll see that I did love. On the other hand, I am writing to you all the time, I am writing with both hands, day and night. It is possible to fall in love for trivial reasons, but only trivial people will let those reasons be. We want to know, at the least, why we felt the way we did. The hope, for the writer—or more precisely, the person authoring their own life—is the rediscovery of the original feeling, what it was that was seen that was truly valued.