Unsent Letter

Marilyn Hacker

Dear X,

Desire for you once filled a book,
that had two continents, two deaths, a child
wisecracking beyond her years in it, flash-styled
wardrobes, some sex scenes, daybreaks, and the look
of a lover leaving, seen from the back,
black jacket, scarf, blonde hair a little wild
in the rising wind that, hours ago, was mild.
And I took a notebook out of my backpack,
opened it on whatever surface was near,
like Berryman, girl gone, began to write
my shipwreck chronicle—all I could do.
Now you’re a businesswoman, sixty-two
(or something) with a wife. I’m sexless, “queer”
politically. And when night falls, it’s night.

Marilyn Hacker is the author of nineteen books of poems, most recently Calligraphies, and co-author of two collaborations: A Different Distance, with Karthika Naïr, and Diaspo/Renga, with Deema K. Shehabi.
Originally published:
April 1, 2024


Louise Glück’s Late Style

The fabular turn in the poet’s last three books
Teju Cole

The Critic as Friend

The challenge of reading generously
Merve Emre

Rachel Cusk

The novelist on the “feminine non-state of non-being”
Merve Emre


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.