Written On by Gaby Kappes

The strange door shuts upon the stranger. 

I slip down in the sheets, 

wait for the rain, and say:

the bottom of the taxi fell out

and I found myself in front of your door.

The present dismisses itself: 

we embark and disembark 

between midnight and dawn, 

sleep as others sleep, 

talk in the future conditional.

If then the rain, I would to you--

Will you give me a receipt, 

please give me a receipt.

Don't be fooled by my mouth--

I have no topos. 

You see I need to hear see what I look see feel--

write it on a receipt.

The receipt will show I was here at five o'clock.

Tuesday. New Moon in the fourth house of Cancer.

It is certainty playing tricks on me--

to lay out the body again and again--

to change the stiffened hand--

to pull the paper over the ominous spot

appearing when I hear my name 

not unlike a sob.

Don't forget to write me, 

tell me I am here in air and world

not sought but visions held and I love 

as you love the change in days.


Gabrielle Kappes writes about British Romantic poetics and affect as a Ph.D. student in the English program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She lives in the Bronx, NY.

Note from the author: 

In Grace and Gravity, Simone Weil writes: “Human existence is so fragile a thing and exposed to such dangers that I cannot love without trembling.” I imagine that the speaker of this poem inhabits a similar world where to love is to lay vulnerable inside the realm of encounter. To receive written proof of this preoccupied state may be the only way that the speaker can perpetuate and value the feeling of being-alone-together with the beloved.