Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 15
Fall 2016

Dear Emily

by Victor Altshul

I can remember a time much earlier in my life
when I think I would have loved you very much.
You were shy,
shyer even than I,
and would not have pressed me
to the edge of failure and shame,

and your very plainness, Emily,
would have comforted me,
as I would not have had to worry
about the brawnier, smoother boys,

and you would have taught me
poetry, and I would not have had to wait
so long to discover
what I should have been in love with all along—

we’d have been so sweet together, Emily,
but for a darkish thought that hovers
like a small rain cloud barely covering the sun,

that I never really understood you—I felt
I ought at least to make some sense
of what a girlfriend means when she speaks,
but with you—how shall I say this—
I never did—no, not at all, and besides—

those dashes, Emily—those infernal dashes—
stopping, starting, stopping, starting again—
and trying to read you once more nowadays—
I get to the right side of your dash—
and cannot remember—what had been—
on the left.


SHJ Issue 15
Fall 2016

Victor Altshul

is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale University. His poetry book, Singing with Starlings, was published by Antrim House (2015), and several of his poems have been featured in the Hartford Courant. His work is forthcoming in Burningword Literary Journal and Coachella Review. He frequently attends monthly chapter meetings of the Connecticut Poetry Society and meets with other poetry organizations throughout Connecticut.

Altshul has run twenty marathons, sung various baritone roles in numerous operas, and rowed in the Head of the Charles Regatta along with other prominent regattas. He works as a psychiatrist with a continuous private practice since 1967.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury