Letters and Editors by Jennifer Paquette

Richard, my editor, has drawn a thick black line through your middle. You have been cut and discarded. Overused and common, he said. I am encouraged to find a substitute. My back straightens as I inhale through my nose. He doesn’t know about us. I carried you in my brown bag with peanut butter and jelly for the days no one sat at my lunch table. You were in the front pocket of my suit jacket as elevators lifted us to interviews. Watching small children clamoring to the top of monkey bars, you were tucked under my bra strap like my grandmother’s handkerchief. Always there. When the world blew apart, I threw you in my mouth and snapped my jaw shut. I felt you lallygagging on my tongue. You would push off on one side of my teeth and then slide over to the other side and back, like swimming laps in a pool. You were ready to climb up over the side and come out when it was your turn. You are brief yet bold on a page. Your first letter jumps straight up and then drops halfway, strolls up a small hill and does a full body roll down to the line. For Richard, we will throw a bangle bracelet on your letter h. Your next letter is a perfect backwards somersault. We can make your o of pure pewter. Deep gray in color but not too flashy as to distract. My favorite letter follows, plunging with abandon below the line and returning to ride over an invisible barrel. The p we just leave be. It is playful enough without make up. Your last letter is your eye held up by a half smile. We can add an eyelash to the letter e to see if Richard can take a joke. Common and overused? Like water, you sustain. Frequent consumption is life-giving and cannot be substituted. You are anything but ordinary. Your friends—optimism, anticipation, and faith—are like you but not you. Richard needs to use pencil, not pen. You are mine. I wouldn’t want him to read all the other words without you.

Jennifer Paquette traded an investment career for writing poetry and fiction. She lives in Colorado.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska