After Separation

This is Pat Janus’ first publication in a national magazine.

Joe Lipsick is an Oberlin College undergraduate.

Mark Rudman won the Academy of American Poets Prize at Columbia University in 1971.

Robert Cantwell teaches English at Kenyon College.

Heather McHugh has published in many magazines and has completed a volume of poems.

Rub Swigart lives in Redwood City, California.

I felt you should know
a stranger is writing in my notebook.
There are parts of poems I never began,
a description of an illness I never had,
love letters to men I never met.
There are letters to one man
that are obscene. They speak
of the hardness of his body
against a mound of warm sand
and the sheen of his skin emerging from water.
They read like anatomy.
You know I would not write such things.
I do not think of men that way.
You know me. my hands are never idle.
I am a clean woman baking apple pie.
I tend the garden in my free time—
the lavender has seeded itself
and spread among the perennials.
I weed around it destroying anything wild.
Well, I felt I had to warn you;
the creature who wrote in my notebook
may be deranged enough
to sign my name to letters
I did not write. Please, please
do not believe letters saying
depraved things signed by me.
Our marriage has been good.
I have never wanted my life
to be any different than it is.
I would not wish you harm.
send you envelopes filled with ashes
or crushed herbs that cast spells.
That letter with the snips of hair
and vicious words is not from me.
by Pat Janus