Dear E

By Esther Sadoff

You went to SAT classes after school. You sat in some second-floor room

that smelled like freshly printed books. The darkness covered the sky like a blanket.

You watched it creep across the bowl of blue. You watched the trees creep over the rooftops.

You watched yourself in the SAT class, a figure reflected in the window glass.

I don't know what you learned besides the stuffy smell of the printing press,

the blankness of the white-washed room, the blurred heads of students turned like half-moons.

Everything was done by halves, everywhere was halfway where you were going.

You drew a picture of me, and I was unrecognizable, so I sketched a picture of you,

magnifying your bad features. We did this to each other for a few minutes.

You felt no pain, only rage at the pencil, exaggerating your nose and hair in angry swoops.

The pencil wouldn't stop scrambling down the page, sketching a litany of your flaws.

Now when you feel angry you feel angry for days. Your heart gallops off with itself,

holding itself hostage. But back then you were all action and reaction, action and reaction.

Today you still feel like you do things by halves. You sit in the half sun,

moving at half speed. Your anger colors half the world, your sadness colors the other half.

I'm sorry I'm the half of you that you always hated. Nothing is ever whole until it's over.


Esther Sadoff is a teacher and writer from Columbus, Ohio. Her poems have been featured or are forthcoming in Little Patuxent Review, Jet Fuel Review, Cathexis Poetry Northwest, Pidgeonholes,among others. She has three forthcoming chapbooks: Some Wild Woman (Finishing Line Press), Serendipity in France (Finishing Line Press), and Dear Silence (Kelsay Books). She was nominated for a Pushcart in 2023.

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Harbinger I

By Kelly R. Samuels