Stealing Names

My dearest Lisette,

How far away you are! I am wretched here without you, with only your memory and your photo, cold comforts, to press against my lips before I sleep. I feel you in the bed beside me through these sweltering nights, aching like a missing tooth, and I toss, and I turn, and get scarcely any sleep at all before morning comes and I must rise again. We are not made to sleep alone, I think; children know this instinctively, and we each learn to ignore this as we become adults. It is not healthy. This pain I feel, this cannot be for the best.

I do not know the stars here, nor any soul at all, and so it feels at times as though I were cast adrift on some uncharted planet, light years from home, light years from you, instead of merely these fifteen thousand miles or however far it really is. How large everything is in the night sky, how near seem all these unfamiliar stars. I wish you were here, darling, with me or instead of me, for I know you should get more out of this than ever I could. Why do the poets remain behind while the merchants venture unfeelingly into such rare beauty?

Day is breaking, my heart, and the native men and women are beginning to move from house to house in the gray light, calling in that musical tongue I cannot learn, and so I know that I must end this letter, and prepare for the day, and do my best for the company. I meet today with the old man who is trying to teach me the language, poor man. When you get this letter, dearheart, kiss it, and know that I am forever

Your loving husband,