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All Girls Should Have a Poem by Richard Brautigan

Sifting through a notebook of letters I’m supposed to send to a friend. It’s more than a year overdue in the mail, and yet it remains on my desk, a steady presence, as if afraid to leave this house. At almost two hundred pages it’s almost a book. It’s heavy in my hands.

Ianthe writes about her father: “I needed a safe place to explore my feelings about him without having to explain anything to anyone.” I hold the hardback copy of You Can’t Catch Death, and it feels strangely light. As if upon putting words on the page, she has freed her burden.

There are no actual pages I can turn in this place. Just a series of clicks until it gets me where I need to go. Until it lets me say what I need to say. I turn my palms up, carrying nothing. My fingers take turns tapping letter after letter after letter, saying everything.

All Girls Should Have a Poem
Richard Brautigan

For Valerie

All girls should have a poem
written for them even if
we have to turn this God-damn world
upside down to do it.

New Mexico
March 16, 1969

This is from Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt by Richard Brautigan, published by Delacorte, 1979.

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