Love in a Handful of Dust: unsent
Dear Fermina Daza,
I saw you first when you were very young, and even the stars in the sky
longed to see themselves reflected in your eyes. Only the daughter of a
mule trader can bend a billion year old light to her will. “Shine!” your eyes
commanded, and the sky awoke to light the sound of your suitor’s violin.
Oh, he played his serenade well, waking in every soul the melancholy of a
Thus you cracked his heart when you spurned his love, but you recognized
that his love was an illusion. You choose rightly, and revealed to me that
desire itself can be an object of worship; that when longing is longed for
more than the woman it names, she becomes merely a muse.
The sanctity of your married years I shall not mar with my inspection, nor
shall I speak of that which I have no ken.
Yet, like your husband, that is when I began to truly know you. I admire the
strength of your spirit in a place and time where your intellect and passion
were not free to explore the world as an eagle soars through the open sky.
Had you been born in this place and this time, what a different life you
would have called your own.
But you persist, and when your husband dies, there waits the suitor, now
old as you are old, now wrinkled as you are wrinkled, now at last, equals in
the aging of the flesh. But unlike you, he has never known what it is like to
The persistence of his love is remarkable, but I know that which you do not:
the roads he travelled and the unrepentant harm he caused to women (and
to girls!) no less deserving of love than you.
I say this out of love for the girl you were and respect for the woman you
have become; you deserve better than him. This is your true brilliance, and
your tragedy, that you outshine the men and the city and the words and
the pen that gave you a name.
Farewell from your eternal friend,
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