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© 2019 by Olivia Olson

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Mathilde is my invisible friend. Sometimes she's like a daughter, sometimes like a mother, sometimes a friend. I write to her when I'm lonely. Sometimes the letters look like poems, sometimes they look like pictures, but pretty often they look like letters. In April 2020, I promised to write her every day.
  • Olivia E. Olson

Dear Mathilde:

Shame you had to work today-- the weather’s just what you love. Dusk, weak sun. Kids hang their coats like limp lungs and it smells of blood and of cheap cereal.

Bent over on tiptoe, we’re sneaking through another season. Hush love he’ll hear us walking. Give us another day of it.

I dreamt up one horror after the other all night-- giraffes with thick, muscled throats and buck teeth. A bath in a crumbling castle filling up and up and over. Rain turned to dust turned to letters flicked from your fingernail into a basketful.

Our love, the clockmaker, woke wagging his head. Our dreams are busted, his sleep’s busted, someone’s adjusted his meds again. Where to go when the dreamworld won’t take you, waiting and waiting outside its gates. The gates have perfect mechanics, you know, but only from the inside.

I heard a long long quiet but he wasn’t sleeping. Help me. It’s going to be a beautiful day again, warm and sunny again. Fifty degrees, they say, all day and sunny. I opened the window just a snatch.

I heard a girl cry, a girl cry. Mathilde my love was it you.


  • Olivia E. Olson

Dear Mathilde:


We’re at the end of one of those humdrum nights.The dishwasher is turning over and over like always. The cats are napping on the couch’s neck, pinching the breathing apparatus just so.


Remember when mother sang the lullaby from Lady and the Tramp, and we could hear that throaty humming, bone to bone. In the morning we’ll take the hound out walking, she’ll put her blistered nose down to the ground and remember and remember.


On the walk around the river, I told an old friend I’m suspicious of nostalgia, but how quickly it spits me out these days. But what’s that hidden imp, living somewhere in the larynx maybe or the folds of water following us, telling me remember, remember. Telling me, love, don’t let any of it go.


At the thrift store I picked up an old coffee maker-- sleek and gold and dirty-- I pictured myself pouring you a small glass, just enough to sip a few times and let the rest get cold. It’d be Christmas, I think-- we’re only elegant around Christmas, dipping our heads together just once while some church bells close their eyes and make a racket. Mathilde, dear, you in your ruby red bow. What a perfect little lady.


We’ll look for our reflections in the busted carafe and wonder how we got this way. How’d we get this way, I’d ask you, and you’ll say, just barely get it out-- practical as ever-- sunsets, Lolly, sunsets and sunsets and forgetting them in the morning.



  • Olivia E. Olson

Dear Mathilde:

Leaned up against

a willow that’s old and filtering light

somewhere out there still

in that old life we held papery hands.

Love, you sung, to the monarchs

with the muscular

wings, love to the gumshoe

crows who saw

us come, watched you

go. Love, that chrome cold evening,


your slithered disappearance

was masterful. My traceless

loss. I’ll keep it up in the scraggly woods

but what will you do. What

will the beautiful

you do, like a moth on the tree

no one noticed. The dry leaves, the spring

that a moth melts into. What

should we make of that.