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Letter of Appreciation

I am no small giver to small charities.
In spite of “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”
on this ornate letter

with its flowery “thank you” for something
someone has imagined I’ve done or am about to do,
I am sending no money today.

Not even the reply I’m thinking: “Ink, paper, and postage
are terrible things to waste.”
And on behalf of every bright child, I am crumpling up

and discarding this misplaced praise with its machined
deckle edge and cliché in gold laser-printed lettering,
but I’ll keep the address labels that came with it.

My own children dropped out of college.
One, after he broke an ulna and had mono
and questioned the reason for living,

the other after she told me on the phone
she hated her roommate, her classes, and teachers.
Essentially, hated the whole world.

I went to college and worried
I wasted my mind but got a degree anyway.
I must have failed to teach my children

not to be afraid to waste their minds.
Or maybe they saved their minds
for some other time.

 

 

Cathryn Shea’s chapbook is It’s Raining Lullabies (dancing girl press, 2017). The Secrets Hidden in a Pear Tree is forthcoming from dancing girl press early 2019. A Best of the Net nominee, her poetry recently appears in Typehouse, Tar River, Permafrost, Rust+Moth, and Tinderbox. See www.cathrynshea.com and @cathy_shea on Twitter.

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