The Note from Tex


How to Write a Letter to the Alaskan Winter Birds

Dear birds,

You don’t know me, but
I label my teeth in German,
including the enamel,
the crown,
the root,
the nerve,
the gum,
the filling.

Sometimes I get confused and sing
“The Wash Hands Song”
when I’m brushing my teeth.

Sometimes I sing “Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss in the Sky”
when I just meant to say “happy birthday”
to Martin Luther King Jr.’s teeth!

I write to you because our preacher
Reverend Wunder told us last Sunday,
“There’s no wisdom in following birds all through the winter.
Birds endure by means of the darkness.
Do YOU want to be creatures who endure
by means of THE DARKNESS?”

And it made me wonder some things
and you seem like the right people to ask
because you are birds and you are in Alaska
where it is always winter (i.e. snow and ice and cold).

Does this mean you fly in the dark?
Are you like bats?
Or can you fly in the dark only in winter?
Do bears ever follow you when they’re not hibernating?
Do they ever sleepwalk and follow you?
You can fly faster than bears run when they’re awake, can’t you?

In a matter of months,
my brother Casey will be hoisted
out of the center of the earth
on a crane
and join our family as my baby brother.

My mommy says this is where
baby miners come from.

Did you know that?

I enclose a picture of my family.

This is my family all wearing spiked teeth.

We do that sometimes to be scary to the missionaries who try to give us their magazine.

Mail, Love, Friendship,

James Earle Carter (not the former president who builds houses for poor people)

To the Chicken of the Sea

Come home.
We miss your eggs.

Our Letters Never Met

Our letters never met
midway between us,
dueling it out like biplanes
in the air over Kansas.

If they had, yours would
be all aces by now
for my guns were all
loaded with blanks

because I didn’t write you wrath.
I made my language silence
like a headstone
through melting snow

and I don’t know
which one of us
is touched by
the stronger hand of strangeness,

you who keep sending me your scorn
or me who answers each of your letters
with one thin sheet of blank stationary
from a place you will remember.