Finalist – 2022 James H. Nash Contest

Love Letter


formal, no, though it does feel
oh-so-serious, so cirrus—no, no, not
stretched thin until the blue gleams through—this
this is persistent rain and dark, grey, featureless layers
which sounds autobiographical. I told myself I wouldn’t I
and now I have though I wanted to you. To be
you or to be with you—or so close one can’t tell
which is which. Or, if you prefer—this isn’t weather. It’s lichen. Light
fun. Foliose? We could shield a tardigrade, you
and I—they don’t move too fast
unlike some I could name. So—same?

This false start—an attempt to sound
smart. It is hard to be sincere even when one feels
so. Harder. One wants to hide out in the open
but one has the wrong hide for this.

What’s in a frame. Deer
To feel prey. To fall. Yes, that’s what it seems. I can’t avoid
nature. It follows. It dreams—no, can’t blame
the unknowing. I’ve forested this, dug holes
for these earnest saplings with my own hands
and though they reach for the sun they are still thin enough
that I can sawdust them if I must, or they might feed
a deer, if you will. I’ll try tame.

RACHEL LINN holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington, where she received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for her thesis project. Her writing and visual art has appeared in Hummingbird, New Territories, Phoebe, Storm Cellar, the St. Louis Metro Arts in Transit program, and elsewhere. She recently completed a poetry translation project as an artist-in-residence at the Printery Book Arts Lab at Central Print and is currently a graduate student at Saint Louis University working on a dissertation project that explores medieval ecopoetics. She has a collection of linked stories paired with pop-up illustrations forthcoming from Meekling Press in 2023.