Put it this way, lovey, some people
stab themselves with their own strength:
stubbornly clinging, when all the best
of collective wisdom, not just your parents,
but your friends, too—calls up the feral
outline of a lover that love for yourself
should let you let go.

Thinking about it, I had it all
so clear in my mind, as placed above you
on this northern map, I wrote you good advice—
but the lines have wavered, and fallen short;
failing to touch that adolescent pride,
still hammer-firm in a southern city.
What lover could clear,

or should, the blackness from those eyes….
Wednesday, the pig came; we stacked it in boxes
by the door; the weather turned cold enough
to keep anything we wanted stiff. As in mute
promise, the pieces of the pig lay wrapped,
lay waiting for the festival of the returning child.
You didn’t come.

By Thursday, hinting at spoils,
the massed disordered meat still lay
in its blood-stained papers, two greasy boxes
to be rendered into lard. At nightfall,
all of the burners covered with the big black
kettles and pots, we did it; swept up the floors
and put the cans away, warm oil

oozing in every crack of the littered stove,
as the large cans held their snowfall of fat
like deferred pleasure. His hair,
strained of color, holds you: the round, full
throbbing of that muscular neck, as it turns
in its senseless activity, the large hands
with the light blond fur, the blunt

nails knotting in the thickness of your hair,
quick and light in their ambiguous caresses,
hold you; tease and deploy us with the hopeful
possibility of our mistake—as nothing can be done
our stomachs full of the veteran pig, the six months
since we saw you. The river in back of the house
clarifies. Slowly and carefully, the snow

thins from the winter-scabbed path. All things
drive to their opposite number. My life
hunkering down in your youth, as absently,
you blur towards a stale body—fresh error—snow
gives way to the black slick mud, and the sky
lightens. Sunday, that bald signal, augmenting,

reaches round for its repeating self again.

Lorrie Goldensohn, “Letter for a Daughter”, in Ploughshares, spring 1977