July 14, 2018—to Pella, Iowa Dear Widow Silence, Yesterday in class, Paul, a peer, till he started to harass My rhymes, seemed astute. I don’t feel attacked. It was my form he fought. His critique lacked A basic grasp of how this form’s diffused; He said, “But heroic couplets are over-used.” If Paul had claimed that their terminal chime Was infantile, I’d nurse him back to rhyme. If Paul had said that they’re the rocking horse That Pope got stuck on, I’d show him something worse. But this? Where can I find this living weed To stretch its stems, to line them up to read? It seems the modern couplet is as rare As leaves in winter. Present, but threadbare. Sonnet, a same-age flower, seems to thrive While couplet blossoms wilt, can’t stay alive. Thom Gunn grew them, arranged them in bouquets, Matched blooms with textures, petals sprung lengthways, Used these still-lives to dress with no regrets Friends lost to him, their graves dewed in night sweats. He talked of “clustering duties of the sick, Irritant as the cough’s dry rhetoric.” Those “helped through day itself, eased into chairs, Or else led step by step down the long stairs.” For those long gone, his lines are as a pond, So placid, yet to our gaze they’ll correspond. The distance tightens. We stretch the water taut And see in double what before was naught. Those rhymes show faces, deserve more than a glance As partners do in friendship and romance. Have I told you Isa writes me back too, With these? She says that her pen isn’t “smooth” But she’s a wit that could be turned to verse. Though she has gone and made physics her curse Of study, her words are like a mountain’s ore I melt in thought. Then still desire more. She loves Ecuador. How selfish… How’s little Drew? How do the tulips scatter there? Cheers, Thew
M. Anthony C. received an MFA in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University where he wrote a thesis of epistolary poetry written in heroic couplets. His poetic inspirations are Thom Gunn, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Derek Walcott, A. E. Stallings, and Alexander Pope among others.