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About this poet

Frances Richey is the author of The Warrior: A Mother’s Story of a Son at War (Penguin Books, 2008) and The Burning Point (White Pine Press, 2004), winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City.

Letters

Frances Richey

1

Before he left for combat,
he took care of everything:
someone to plow the driveway,
cut the grass.
And the letter he wrote me,
just in case, sealed,
somewhere, in a drawer;
can't be opened,
must be opened
if he doesn't return.
I feel for my keys, 
hear his voice:
Less is better. Late
for work, still,
I linger
at the window of the Century
Florist, a bowl of peonies,
my face among the tulips.

2

Last Mother's Day, when
he was incommunicado,
nothing came.
Three days later, a message
in my box; a package,
the mail room closed.
I went out into the lobby,
banged my fist against 
the desk. When they 
gave it to me, I clutched it
to my chest, sobbing 
like an animal.
I spoke to no one,
did not apologize.
I didn't care about the gift.
It was the note I wanted,
the salt from his hand,
the words.

From The Warrior: A Mother's Story of a Son at War by Frances Richey. Copyright © 2008 by Frances Richey. Used by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.

From The Warrior: A Mother's Story of a Son at War by Frances Richey. Copyright © 2008 by Frances Richey. Used by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.

Frances Richey

Frances Richey is the author of The Warrior: A Mother’s Story of a Son at War (Penguin Books, 2008) and The Burning Point (White Pine Press, 2004), winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City.

by this poet

poem
What do you say when you've forgotten
how the grass smells,
married to the dark
soil crumbling in your hands?
When the sun makes a bed for you to lie in?
When a voice you've never heard
has missed you,
singing down your bones--
it's taken so long to get here.

Now I'm breathing in the mountains
as if I'd