Letter to America by Robert Wrigley

One Poem

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Dear America

“somewhere I have never travelled…”
— E. E. Cummings


Dear planet, dear hemisphere, dear tree.
Dear whitetail buck, dear dirt, dear stone.
Dear crack in the stone from which a wildflower
called Scarlet Gilia rose and blossomed last summer.
Dear Scarlet Gilia, now desiccate and gray.
Dear everything that dies.
Dear sky, dear clouds. Dear citizen fly
dying on the windowsill. Dear windchill,
dear mid-autumn snow, dear wood stove,
dear split of firewood undoing itself inside.
Dear nothing which we are to perceive in this world.
Dear intense fragility. Dear nation undoing itself.
Dear equality. Dear eyes deeper than all roses.
Dear worshipped god, dear dollars, dear
sense of decency, dear home of the brave.
Dear everyone, dear dead in the war
and the peace. Dear peace. Dear piece of ass.
Dear waterboard, dear enhanced interrogation,
dear euphemism. Dear water and air. Dear detainee.
Dear rage, dear fear. Dear queered
in the myriad ways of queering.
Dear others, othered. Dear other countries.
Dear mother country. Dear tired and poor, etc.
Dear documents, dear “all men,” dear women, etc.
Dear etcetera—you know who you are. Dear you-
know-who-you-are. Dear drones. Dear non-voters.
Dear inalienable rights, dear aliens, dear natives, who hardly exist, etc.
Dear registry, dear dead majesty, dear internment,
dear slavery, dear mass incarceration, dear prisons
and hospitals for the purpose of dear profit. Dear planet,
which will not die and will not mourn us if we do.
Dear two-by-two, dear ark. Dear sea level.
Dear Pacific Garbage Patch. Dear itch
to destroy, dear boy become a man
no good man would recognize. Dear maximize,
dear capital, dear nobody, not even the rain.
Dear America, rendering forever and death
with each breath. Dear Klansman, having got
exactly, so far, what he wants.




Robert WrigleyRobert Wrigley is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Idaho. A new book of poems, entitled Box, will be published by his long-time publisher Penguin, next March. He lives in the woods near Moscow, Idaho, with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.
Read poetry by Robert Wrigley previously appearing in Terrain.org.
Header photo of flags in military cemetery by Unsplash, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Robert Wrigley by Canese Jarboe.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.