40 Years of CutBank: "Unsent Postcard"

Unsent Postcard

By Ali Shapiro

Published in CutBank 78


It’s not that I miss you, I just want to keep

telling you everything. How the girls here

are lovely, and covered

in paint, but they don’t do to me

what they used to. How the mountains hold ghosts

of your tent, our fire, hunters neon

cutbank_78as tropical fish. Today I walked uphill

out of town and then uphill

back home, the whole time thinking,

Don’t go, don’t go, but to no one

in particular. It’s not that I’m lonely, it’s just

things are slightly peculiar—the barn’s

crooked smile of windows, its mouthful

of cows, the bridge that straddles

the river that keeps going,

shhhh. I’m quiet, I’m

quiet. Talk to the birds, the shuddering

trucks, the cicadas back from the dead to tell us

everything. I’m telling you, all long tall things

bring your body back to me, the muscular

tree trunks, their hard

brown arms, and the one struck

by lightning whose wound I keep wanting

to tend. And the clouds, of course, but you can’t

trust clouds, they’re as bad

as my mind, which also

keeps changing, going, Rabbit, 

no, bear. It’s not that I wish

you were here, it’s just—it’s

the deer, they keep hurling themselves

at my car in the night, but I’m fine, fine, it’s just

it’s a zillion degrees in the sun and I can’t

bear swimming, how the current keeps touching me

everywhere at once like your hands.


Ali Shapiro is a recent graduate of the MFA program in poetry at the University of Michigan. Her poems have been published in RATTLERedividerLinebreakPANK, and Cutbank, and her posts are regularly featured on the Ploughshares blog. She's the recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center and the Vermont Studio Center, and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prizes in various denominations. The Wigs, her webcomic exploring the ambiguous relationship between two guinea pigs wearing clown noses, can be found at otherwig.com.