Not a cure, but a balm, perhaps…

Writing letters is about communicating with others, isn’t it? We can share our feelings, enumerate our differences, find common ground, and introduce new ideas. As I’m sure we’ve all experienced, we can be more ourselves in letters than we might be in person, so it’s no surprise that many meaningful relationships have been established through the written word.

And what time is more lonely than those nights when sleep won’t come, when you’re staring out the window at darkness, and there is no one to talk to but your own mind, which is deafeningly, frighteningly loud? I always wind up sitting with a book and tea and notebook, but mostly staring into space, because all I really want is not to feel so alone.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working with Kathy and Donovan of the Letter Writers Alliance on something called MOTH MAIL, which goes on sale tonight at Midnight CST. Together we discovered a rare species of moth that can be enticed into fetching, and delivering, your noctural musings/worries/elations to your far-flung friends. Strangely, this type of nocturnal letter-carrier also has the singular ability to assuage your loneliness and help your sleep, because we discovered that the star-dust on this curious creature’s wings can also lull you into dreamland.

Learn more, write your own MOTH MAIL, or just buy the First Day Cover (available only on the First Day, of course) here:
I’ll leave you with a poem or two.

photo by Wayne Vanderkuil

The moon in the bureau mirror
looks out a million miles
(and perhaps with pride, at herself,
but she never, never smiles)
far and away beyond sleep, or
perhaps she’s a daytime sleeper.

By the Universe deserted,
she’d tell it to go to hell,
and she’d find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.
So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down the well

into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea
is now deep, and you love me.

Elizabeth Bishop

Even though the house is deeply silent
and the room, with no moon,
is perfectly dark,
even though the body is a sack of exhaustion
inert on the bed,

someone inside me will not
get off his tricycle,
will not stop tracing the same tight circle
on the same green threadbare carpet.

It makes no difference whether I lie
staring at the ceiling
or pace the living-room floor,
he keeps on making his furious rounds,
little pedaler in his frenzy,
my own worst enemy, my oldest friend.

What is there to do but close my eyes
and watch him circling the night,
schoolboy in an ill-fitting jacket,
leaning forward, his cap on backwards,
wringing the handlebars,
maintaining a certain speed?

Does anything exist at this hour
in this nest of dark rooms
but the spectacle of him
and the hope that before dawn
I can lift out some curious detail
that will carry me off to sleep—
the watch that encircles his pale wrist,
the expandable band,
the tiny hands that keep pointing this way and that.

Billy Collins

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One response to “Not a cure, but a balm, perhaps…

  1. Alan B

    “Late at night, everybody’s in bed, but Mail Art’s in my heart and in my head”
    [audio src="" /]

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