Two things we love: love, and the United States Postal Service. We asked contributors to the Love Issue to write a one-sentence love letter to a thing or being—a place, small or large; a work of art; a plant; a creature; an object; a built space; or, yes, a human.
—Anna Lena Phillips Bell
My dear houseplant, I took a bet on nature
the day I started styling you Hibiscus
(spelled with an upper-case initial H):
when we anthropomorphize plants, we risk
entrusting heartless life-forms with our hearts
and growing too attached to stems and leaves
less sturdy than their fauna counterparts
(the garden store I bought you from, perceiving
how meager are your chances at longevity,
placed no more than a one-year guarantee
upon your life), but notwithstanding brevity,
I chose to name you, think of you as he
instead of it, and sometimes speculate
on what you’re dreaming, dozing by that grate.
To the space in between, I am forever (and increasingly) enthralled with the ways you are simultaneously light waves, bouncing and echoing sound, a plentitude of wishes, stories we’ve yet to tell, the wildest dreams of our own/our ancestors/our communities, aching frustration, dripping desire, a complete erasure of time, an awareness of every passing minute, so quiet, so loud, too much, and never enough.
—Lex Non Scripta
Breath, that my twin bellows suck for love of you, that leaves me lighter when most full, that buoys me on dark water, and flows through me all the days of my doing, and catches on a thought, hot anise and dust, that summer day I saw her, baking on the rock by the creek, a sigh, the dimpled corner of her smile, I can’t live without you.
Dearest collaboration, where would we be without your conjoining words, your suture against a lisping solitude, your weld a salve for fractured syllables, your bright connectivity that resurrects us daily from the confines of a singular mind: for you are the window we crawl through to escape our loneliness, our lassitude, as we move toward your love of list, your mine of metaphor, your bringing us beyond the one into a stronghold of braided new beauty, and for that, we salute you.
—Simone Muench and Jackie K. White
There is a magnolia tree in front of my childhood house that blooms near my mom’s birthday (which is when she went into labor with me): its waxy white petals cup its shedded parts like an apron gathers eggs.
Tuesday night: making mushroom pizza and dancing to Lizzo in the kitchen.
To each & every One of my ferrets, the complete and utter delight inside your pounce and chase reminds me of my own deep need and capacity for joy.
To Alabama, to Willie Lee and Ola Bell, to Donald, Jennifer, Monique, Jasmine, Julian, to the red dirt, to the dark brilliant sparkle of the Magic City at night—maybe, to the mirror and its promise that I just might be who I say I am—eternal love to it all.
—Ashley M. Jones
Love Letter During Quarantine to My Online Friends Whom I’ve Not Met in Person— Though we have not sat for coffee, cooked with wine, watched one another’s cats on long trips, or heard each other’s laughter will a room like twisting smoke, know that we share some light—that while you read this, we are tracking the same stars across the same sky, searching for the same planetary bodies to give our world perspective—and that my love is waiting for you, always, like the last word of a sentence whose ending is the start of something big.
To my mother’s tap SHOES:
In the back of my closet, I hear you shuffling,
scraped silver on carpet, brushing out, pulling
back, warming up to Fred Astaire’s “Heaven,
I’m in heaven.”
This morning I played “The Goldfish” for the first time and my toddler did a whole dance routine I’d never seen before—laying down on her rock, swimming around, shaking her tail, shaking her finger, washing her hair—and I shook my tail back and laid down on her rock with her and I shook my finger too, and every time she moved she invented a new feeling in me, like everything is when you have a kid, like every parent tells you and you just think how dumb until you find yourself down there on that rock, until you find your tail behind you, until you are turning into some scaled creature glittering and orange and brand new.
Dear Laurel Lake, I’m writing to thank you for all those summer days you put up with me and my friends back in high school. For your cool waters, the glowing leaf-light of your woods, the cliffs where we jumped, the slate-and-sand banks where we made out and passed out and studied your waves. For the way you sounded at night and the cool air of your mornings. For the way you brought us all together. I’ve put you in my short story “Jericho” because I’ve loved you so much.
Queridas aves de Norteamérica que han desaparecido en los últimos cincuenta años, tres mil millones de ustedes: Vuelen a nuestros corazones perdidos. Ayúdennos a amar a aquéllas que no vemos. ¡Presente! ¡Presente! ¡Presente! Querido futuro, juntos, ¿Cómo podemos escuchar y vivir para los pájaros? (Perdonen mis palabras imperfectas.)
—Gretchen E. Henderson
Dear house—From whose prow in the attic I can watch the world, through whose French doors the eternal back yard maple lights the dining room, who have seen laughing babies and raging teenagers, whose walls have been opened with violence for every whim from gaslight to co-ax cable, whose century-laden frame sags comfortably around my own, shelter me now from the ache of knowing that the day will come when I leave you.
The fox I glimpse in the alley— A figure framed by the twined morning glories, whose look I want to believe is one of love, epistle, address, something more than measuring threat in the shade of constellations, the shadow of Moon and Mars.
Dear Approximation, I’m learning to (almost) love your approachings and come-closers, your ballpark figures and near convergences, your educated guesses and estimates and eye-ball measures; O you who bless the slant of antique shingles and slant rhyme, the single lacking shutter and the extra syllable, do please keep tempering my rigidity by quasi-aligning your propinquities nigh mine.
—V. Penelope Pelizzon
To you: I think of you when the moon is full—you will always be an answered prayer and abundant blessing for which I am eternally grateful.
When I miss you, I use your favorite mug, and sit on your side of the couch.
To the sound of my children practicing their ukuleles: I was raised a woodwind, and so could not have dreamed there would be singing, too.
Love Letters from the Ecotone team:
—K.N. Flora, fiction editor
To Ninny: Whenever I see a frog, hear a laugh fall back down from the sky, feel the colors of seasons in change, or listen, really listen, I know you’re there, drinking tea the way you taught mom to, giving me that knowing look from afar, and I love you Ninny, and I think of that house on the wharf we looked at with the room you called mine.
—Nathan Conroy, nonfiction editor
Dear Atlantic Ocean, In the beginning I wasn’t sure about your mercurial winds, your waters that range from hot tub to iceberg, your steep sandbar waves that I didn’t know how to surf—but now that you’ve let me in, I love the way your tides wax and wane, and the way tropical storms dance over your surface.
—Kaylie Saidin, reader and fact checker
To my friends, standing in an open forest gazing at the autumn stars: With you, I have become a firefly, a lantern, a coin under a waterfall—all of these small, bright things that have learned to capture light.
—Courtney Justus, reader and fact checker
To your hands that smell always of buttercream, their royal blue dye at the end of a day so much like pen ink; you always say you’re not an artist, but the garden you spin full of twill tulip petals, pettifois, and edible pearls makes the batter so sweet in my mouth—like the earth itself, the one I want to inhabit after all this, has a taste and the taste is a bloom.
—Cassie Mannes Murray, design team
To the House on the Hill, I dream about you now more than ever—slippery wooden floors, sparkling popcorn ceilings, thick maroon carpet, our child hands cupping the porch rails, running in and out of your rooms (especially the dark green one), and the angels—all of it; it seems you’re always on my mind.
—Noelle Powers, poetry editor