Dear Reader by Min Straussman

Dear Reader,

I want to tell a story about myself where I am very far away or, preferably, not there at all. 

In the story, which is maybe not a story exactly, but more of a history, I arrange all of my pieces on the board just so, and they never fail to knock against one another in just the right way. (Am I playing chess or billiards?) 

In this history, which begins a very long time ago, or yesterday, or next week, I am walking (or is it running?) down a path. What is strange about the path is that I cannot see beyond where I put my foot for each step forwards, or backwards, or sideways. Far away, deep in the forest, I can see pinpricks of light, but I cannot tell where they are or what they might signify. 

Since I am not in this story, there is really just the path, and the forest–perhaps some trees, too, but I am not there, and I cannot properly say. 

My lack of presence is at times something lightly worn, and at other moments a frustration. Not being there means I walk easily, not worrying overmuch about wrong turns or dangers lurking on the road. However, not being material means I cannot move obstacles out of the way, cannot improve the situation at any point. You see my frustration.

Lately, I have been attempting spells to bring back my presence. You see, I had one once, a slight specter of a thing to be sure, but real enough. Or, at least, I think I did. It was too long ago, and I can only remember snippets of the presence. My magic is therefore lazy and haphazard. Not having a vision of a presence, I lack the will to properly bring one into existence. (Spare me the lecture, dear reader. Yes, I know how dangerous it is to go half-cocked into conjuring.)

Therefore, I am writing this epistolary plea to you. Do you remember me? Where have you seen me before? Could you describe me in great detail, starting from the top and working your way down? I would be most grateful. You see, I have forgotten how my story ends.


Min is a poet, essayist, and academic. S/he is a queer Jew who writes about being queer and being a Jew. S/he has a degree in comparative literature from the Sorbonne that s/he puts to use writing about words for
S/he lives and teaches in Paris, but s/he was made in Pittsburgh and never forgets it. S/he is eternally in pursuit of a poem that feels like being next in line at the border checkpoint with expired papers from a country that no longer exists but may yet again.