Your letter

your letter is larger and lighter
than the thought of a flower when the dream
is a garden—

as your letter opens
there's an unfolding of sky, word from outside,
wide spaces

I slept in green pastures,
I lay on the cusp of the valley of the shadow of death
during the last watch of the night
listening to those condemned to die
being led through tunnels in the earth,

how they sing
with the breath at their lips
as residents at the point of leaving
a city in flames, how they sing,
their breaths like shackles,

how they sing—
they who are about to jump from light into darkness,
they who will be posted to no destination—
terror fills me at the desecration

the table before me in the presence of my enemies
is bare, I have ash on my head,
my cup is empty

and I fled to your letter to read
of the orange tree decked out in white blossoms
opening with the sun,

I could smell it on the balcony—
I can smell you
lovelier and lighter than the thought of a flower
in this dismal night

I will be suspended from the sky of your words—
grant that I may dwell in your letter
all the days of my life

envoi
your letter is wonderful, larger and lighter
than the thought of a flower when the dream
is the earth of a garden—

as your letter opens
there's an unfolding of sky, word from outside,
memory

by Breyten Breytenbach

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