Winter 1955 • Vol. XVII No. 1 Poetry |

Initial Letters

These letters in this order ring The faintest bell that most alerts—Like voices broadcast from remote Continents striving to edge in Amid the jangle nearer home. They say less with less volume, yet Prick deeper than the roundest notes Of praise upon the friendliest lips That shrink me like too big a coat. . . . The self calls for a neater fit. Nor do they come short like the face That stares back at me from the glass And gently mocks: "Are these the eyes And this the set of mouth and chin You'd pick to show the man within?" What startles when by chance I meet These letters is not vanity Flattered nor is it self-esteem Beat down, but the unmediated shock Of self confronted by its Me. If enemy of mine should wish To gratify his heart's desire, He needs but shape these characters In wax and slowly melt them down Till I have vanished in the fire.

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More

Malentendu

By Joseph Warren Beach

These letters in this order ring The faintest bell that most alerts—Like voices broadcast from remote Continents striving to edge in Amid the jangle nearer home. They say less with […]

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.