The title of this week’s poem suggests that perhaps the “he” in the poem is dead and unidentified, that his body has been found merging with the natural world, which the poem describes in a series of lyrical images. But, “remote” as his story might be, the poem gives us his final telegram, his final feeling.

Dawn Potter is the author of eight books of poetry and prose, including her most recent poetry collection, “Chestnut Ridge,” which will be released this month by Deerbrook Editions. Potter will present the book at an event on Aug. 29 at Longfellow Books.


John Doe’s Love Letter

By Dawn Potter


He was a man as clear as water.

Catfish twitched in his shallows

and nibbled the strands of his hair.

His bald head shone.


Rust-drunk, his ripple

shimmered among hubcaps and broken bottles.

Now and again he splashed, now and again

slipped to a weaving amble.


Frog spawn glistened on his scarred thighs,

willow-weed roughened his whiskers.

Behind his silted lungs,

his heart dipped and quivered.


Arteries sighed, silver-edged in leaf dapple.

From his callused palms, from his chipped bones,

his days floated, up, up,

papery and frail, remote as telegrams.


Cows fed Hay raked

Stop. O I think of you.


Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is a poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2016 Dawn Potter. It appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, 67, no.2, 2016 and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.