Love Letters, Part One

In the dream I am swimming toward you, absorbed in the body's rhythms. As I approach your rock, I wake. I wait. I think about moving toward you. I hear the pulses in my body beat.

Writing to a lover, real or imagined, requited or hopeless, is obsession, pastime, gesture across miles, hours, years. It is fingers on a keyboard, gel ink on a postcard, pencil on a legal pad. It is impetuous, considered, hysterical, calm—electronic, or a note slipped under a door. It is now or decades later. Here, a collection from our writers, for you, for Valentine's Day. —Elizabeth Zimmer

photo: Amy Pierce

December 7, 2004

Dear Kitty and Eddie Joe,

I'm writing to thank you for seducing me the other night, while I was back home. I know, because you told me, that you do it every time you go out, but I don't. The list of things I did that night that I've never done before is long: sniffing a stranger's cocaine in a men's room; driving off in a stranger's truck; standing outside a seedy bar waiting for someone's drug connection; making out with a girl; making out with a girl in the front row of a small porn theater; making out with a girl high half out of her mind, who is biting me with crooked pearl teeth and murmuring incessantly, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

You know I did it for you, Kitty. I liked you two together, the intelligence, the calculated seduction through stories—how you fucked everyone in your little town in Tennessee: the 17-year-old girls, waitresses and bartenders, Eddie Joe's army comrades. How you were married to other people until you seduced each other with poetry and formed an insatiable alliance, an unstoppable juggernaut of pleasure both illegal and unimaginable. You told me a story, then gave me a role to play, even though I felt the staginess as together you undressed me on your half-clothed mattress on the floor, pulled off my black silk dress, and rolled down my fishnets as your transvestite friend watched Gone With the Wind in the next room. I don't think you really learned my name. It's true I did it for the story too, to be out of time for a night, somewhere with no connection to my real life and real love; but most of all I did it for you, Kitty, and the image that you gave me, arched astride your husband, auburn curls flying, writhing like a demon had possessed your creamy skin.

Lula Belle

June 15, 2004

Dear Michael,

Ten years ago this summer, we rode together standing in the back of a jeep from Lee Wah's Chinese restaurant to Lake Winnipesaukee, and as Liz Phair's "Supernova" played, you casually lip-synched the payoff line right to my face: "And you fuck like a volcano." I've always regretted that I never got to prove it. I'm still a music fanatic, still think of you when I hear that song. And a few other songs as well, even though I could never be to you all that you were to me. Here's the mix tape (or mix EP) I haven't the courage to make for you:

1. Dave Matthews Band, "Dancing Nancies": What I heard when I got to know you, midnight skinny-dipping at the lake with you and about 30 of your closest friends, and knew you could not be ignored. "Sing and dance/I'll play for you tonight./The thrill of it all."

2. Alex Dolan, "Smoking Gun": You were a pop culture vulture of equal stature. "The spectacular Scott Bakula!"

3. The Supremes, "I Hear a Symphony": "A thousand violins fill the air." Particularly when you dry off and change clothes in front of me, with cocksure confidence.

4. Norman Connors, "You Are My Starship": "I just can't say it's here that you want to be." Indeed, I knew it wasn't. But when has that ever tapered desire?

5. The Samples, "Nothing Lasts For Long": The song that made you bleary-eyed, and made me wish I could be the one you said nothing to all night. "Take my hand and walk with me,/And tell me who you love."

6. Wilco, "How to Fight Loneliness": They opened with this at the Orpheum—a perfect night, except that you weren't in the seat next to mine. "Just smile all the time."

7. Sweet Sensation, "Sad Sweet Dreamer": Lying on the dock of that same lake, this time solo, imagining your leg brushing against mine. "It's just one of those things/You put down to experience."

8. Stevie Wonder, "Another Star": I tipsily sang this, the day after your cousin's wedding. Everyone else was still bunked up with dates and spouses, and I had a water-glistened dock for a partner and a robust morning sun for an audience. "For you, love might bring a toast of wine;/But with each sparkle know the best for you I pray./For you, love might be for you to find,/But I will celebrate a love of yesterday."

9. Robbie Williams, "Angels": That was what I sang after you left, the last time I sang with you, at a karaoke party two years ago. I've never held anyone so tightly as when you said goodbye, never put on so brave a face as when I rejoined the party. "I'm loving angels instead."

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