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July 2016, vol 12 no 2

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Ray Rasmussen

Email to My High School Girlfriend

Hi Maggie,

Usually I get a greeting from you on my birthday, but so far, nothing.

The terrible thing about this occasional email contact among oldsters – although I don’t like it, I guess that’s how we are best described—is that one never knows whether the other person is still there, well and happy or more likely, not well, but hopefully, not too unwell, and at least content, if not happy.

I do hope you’re well and content.

I’m living in Northern Canada for a few months. My cottage is located in a mixed hardwood forest and I earn my keep by harvesting wood for the owners. Mornings are for writing, early afternoons for the chainsaw and axe, and late in the day for a walk and whatever unfolds. As evening approaches, there’s a book or magazine by a warm fire made with wood I’ve harvested. When I glance out the window near dusk, I can count on feeder visits from a pair of nuthatches and gang of chickadees.

I’ve put out a collection of my published haibun and soon I’ll be a millionaire, living off the royalties, sailing my yacht around the world, maybe with a stopover at the marina near our hometown – you know, the one we never got to visit because we were from the wrong end of town – to visit friends and lovers.

Friends? Hmmmm. Did I have any in high school? I think you women are better at that—you’re still connected to some of your school pals, yes? For me, deep friendships came much later. I had to learn how to get beyond the simple male bonding rituals of “sports talk” and “woman talk.” My father’s connections with other men were through cards, sports, and fishing. I mostly remember silences at the family dinner table.

Were we lovers? We were going steady at a pretty young age, and yet, not too young to have had sex, which is one kind of love. Do you remember how close we got when your parents left us alone one evening? But doesn’t it count more that we didn’t go all the way and we’re still in touch?

There’s a bit of weather tonight – thunder, lightning, strong winds – hopefully not a portent.

rain of yellow leaves
a pair of newts
cozy in the woodpile

Note: The haibun is a revision of one that appeared in KYSO Flash, Issue 5, Spring 2016.