It rained through the long night, the thirteenth longest night of the nearly discarded crumpled year.

Polly didn’t put the kettle on. I did but couldn’t wait for the whistle so covered dry tea leaves with not-boiled-tap-water while listening to the swish/slosh of car tires; to pauses, to spatters, driblets, sprinkles, sprays, swash. In bed with Eleven Chekhov Stories, also an as yet unwritten, unaddressed, unstamped foot-high pile of UNICEF holiday cards, each escorting a white companion envelope. Please don’t let this night end!

The newly minted international air mail stamps (green succulents) are as ugly as the last issued (golden moons). Now this annual ritual can begin to the sway of falling rain. Having braced against nostalgia’s bite, I pen unimaginative greetings. To Zagreb, Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Bangla Muna, Marrakesh.

Not yet dead friends, almost lost friends, in touch friends, unreported dead friends, diminished friends, new friends, aspiring friends, altered friends, adored, detoured, distasteful, irritating friends. A phrase or two dashed-off in pitch black ink to each. To Paris, Castlemaine, Ballybane, Berlin, Rouillac, Carry le Rouet, London, Ramat Hashaion, Hoorn, Faulück,Haarlem, Pedeli, Garrelsweer.

Always alert in case viperous wistfulness that might creep from between my toes or coil and strike from the toe of newish German shoes. On some cards go longer notes in navy blue ink. To St. Pierre de Plesguen, La Rippe, Krasnoye, Jerusalem, Hydra, Cumbria,  Folkestone, Finchley Road, Den Haag, Stabekk, Plavdiv, Edinburgh, Malahide.

More tea made, poured, drunk; this cup burning hot. A pause to admire the bracing petit point rain, its tap-tap tap-tap, fresh droplets pooling. Cards to Eindhoven, Düsseldorf, Katnataka, Stroud, Celerina, Berkout, South Pender Island, Isle of Wight, Tromso, Nea Smyrni, Sydney. Entering my room in her usual haste, Anne Frank peaks in unexpectidly, shakes a lean index finger, reiterates her own words “…dead people receive more flowers than the living because regret is stronger than gratitude.” “Indeed” I concur, a kindred spirit who may not have a Ph.D. in regret as she must, but surely has a B.A.

Trading the blue sharpie for a lively orange, am running out of words. There’s Unterstammheim, Staten Island, Studio City, Green Valley, Los Angeles, Chicago, Westin, Glen Cove, New York City, Foothill Ranch,  Santa Cruz, Sunnyside, Anahola, Sheffield, Morgantown, New Orleans, Boca Ratan, East Hampton, Upper Darby, Huntington Beach, Venice, High Falls, Maplewood, Cupertino, Santa Fe, Concord, Santa Monica,  Cambridge, Miami, Woodland Hills, Pacific Palisades, Millford, West Hollywood, Encinitas, Encino, Carlsbad, Gloster, Cumberland Fireside, Fairfax, Penn Valley, Minniappolis, Indian Wells, Sag Harbor, Brooklyn, Redondo Beach, Santa Barbara, Hampton Bays, North Bennington, Rutherfordton. 

In the park below, dead wet butterflies impersonate fallen leaves. Were I outside, ink would run, stamps curl. The rain rolls down the window’s glass while my nest remains toasty, dry. As the kettle heats more water, I check to see if a lidless sharpie (black, blue, or orange) has bled ink onto the saintly duvet, the holy sheets, the virginal nightgown. I await a whistle. To my left, Chekhov blissfully levitates. Night time is nowhere near the end. “Yes, Anne, nostalgia has laid its cheek against mine, nine parts sweet, one part regret. Regret can dampen gratitude.”