Birthday Letters

December: the month of birthday letters: letters that, this year, I cannot write. Now You Are 9. Now You Are 71. Now You Are 25. The letters that will go unread because they have gone unwritten. Why can’t I find the words? I can’t even seem to find them in my head or my heart, let alone on paper. Come on, H, think: what do you want to say to your favourite family members on their birthdays? Niece: I am frightened for your future – I am sorry for the state of the country – I want to protect you from everything but I know I can’t – I adore you. Dad: I can’t believe you actually died – hope it’s sunny where you are – please come back. Brother: I am so proud of the man you have become – I wish you would talk more about Dad – I hope that your quarter-life crisis isn’t as chaotic and permanent as mine – did I mention how proud I am of you? But these words seem pointless for some reason. I can’t turn them into poetry, though they are heavy with sadness and fear and worry. Pride and love exist in these thoughts too, but again I cannot turn these concepts into a letter worthy of the recipient, not this year. I don’t know why. I guess I am tired. I guess I don’t have faith in my ability to vocalise or poetise (?) these huge ideas of mine; they are too big for my poor little brain. I guess I don’t believe that the words to express my love for these people even exist. Or they do, but I am not smart enough to find them. Even if these letters materialised, the addressees would never read them anyway: niece, too young, dad, too dead, brother, too… elsewhere. So there will be no letters this year. They’d understand. Yes, if they were even aware that I was fretting so much about writing them a birthday letter they’d never read, they’d understand. They’d understand that my brain is tired and my heart is broken and I just cannot find the words.


  1. I get this so much!! Double exclamation because this is kinda how I’m feeling right now too.
    For what it’s worth, your words are always poetry to me, even when they’re not. I always used to think poems had to rhyme until I realised that traditional rhymes do NOTHING for me (unless it’s Eminem or Bukowski or whomever). ❤

    1. Thank you, kind soul ❤

      Eminem’s rhyming skills are out of this world! I think he’s the only human on earth who can confidently make words rhyme with ‘orange’ (door hinge, syringe, drug binge)

      I hope the right words return to you soon xx

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