Phyllis' Poetry

Phyllis Klein: Poetry

It Should Be Me Who is Looking After You



I wrote this poem after reading an article in the New York Times about these letters unearthed in an office in Taiwan sixty years after they were written. The authors were political prisoners executed for speaking out against the government.

It Should Be Me Who is Looking After You
                      Letters from the dead, Taiwan

Only the night before execution
are they given
a pen and paper to say
what will be unseen
for decades. He takes the pen,
writes the message
to his unborn child.
        Before long I will leave this earth.
His wife feels their child
inside her. All she knows
is his disappearance,
the emptiness.
        Alas to be unable to see you,
        to hug you, to kiss you once.
The child arrives.
Her father is part
of a flock of magpies.
        I am heartbroken,
he says. My regret is unending.
All she knows is her father
is not there.

All she knows is nothing.
For sixty years she knows
not a thing. Until the letter arrives.

Another takes his pen,
writes a message to his son.
        On this earth you will never
        see your father again.

His father is a tawny owl
on a blue oak branch.
        This is the saddest thing,
he tells him. The son is lonely.
        You must not
        forget your father.

This man writes to his mother.
        Your son believes that
        people who die
        have a spirit.
She feels him near her like a robin
flying through an open window.
        Your son is determined to come
        to your side every day
        to keep in touch.
She feels the draft
of wings on her face.
        To see your peaceful eyes,
        to make sure you
        eat three meals a day.

So many days, so many years later
the letters arrive.
The words fly off the paper
to settle on tear drops,
tiny lanterns, drifting.


1 thought on “It Should Be Me Who is Looking After You”

  1. Pingback: Crossing the Waters – PPC2-stg02

Comments are closed.