Melanie Figg

Dear Jim,

Can’t believe the weather you have!
I’m glad I’m in Utah for once.
When your father died, what’d you save?
Each day I regret the absence
of shirts, canning jars—as if love
lived in all that, not this silence.
I still pick up the phone and dial.
You’re right, it’s gonna take a while.

People don’t talk about this part:
the thousand dollar plane ticket,
how when you meet at the airport
both your sisters seem less frantic
than you are—nauseous and strung out
from lack of sleep. All my dramatic
notions of crying at the gate
collapsed when they touched me. I hate

her for dying and leaving me.
No one wanted to leave the car
or open her door. The TV
wasn’t on. She wasn’t in her
blue chair (she died there). But Garby
was: wandering through all that clutter,
left to pace that empty house.
I laughed till I cried: I’m jealous.

I know, god, it’s just a cat. Still—
she watched my mother die. I like
to think she helped Mom to death’s wall—
crawled up on her lap to lick
her hand as it cooled. I’d crawl
on her lap, too, if I could, lock
my hand in her hair, pull her back.
All I see these days is lack, lack.

Strange. I finally feel grown up.
Loss is the bridge, isn’t it? Heard
you’re off to India soon—have a cup
of chai and leave Kali some red
flowers for me. Have a good trip.
The Sufis say pearls are beauty made
from chaos. Nothing’s as it seems—
sun and wind. Still the desert blooms.

Melanie Figg is the author of the award-winning poetry collection, Trace (named one of the Best Indie Books of 2020 by Kirkus). She has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and others. Her poems, personal essays, and book reviews are published or forthcoming in dozens of literary journals, including The Rumpus, Nimrod, The Iowa Review, and Conduit. Melanie teaches writing in the DC area and online. As a certified professional coach, she offers women’s writing retreats and works one-on-one with writers and others. Her website is