“All night it will say one name”: Tess Gallagher’s “Under Stars”

Photo by Blair Fraser via Unsplash

Photo by Blair Fraser via Unsplash

I am very fond of letters, though I am a terrible correspondent, so I loved the opening of Tess Gallagher’s poem “Under Stars,” which imagines what a letter does in a mailbox overnight:

The sleep of this night deepens
because I have walked coatless from the house
carrying the white envelope.
All night it will say one name
in its little tin house by the roadside.

Ms. Gallagher is a poet who I’m just starting to read. I learned from the biographical note on the Poetry Foundation’s site that she is also a short story writer, and I think this remark about how she approaches writing poetry and prose is illuminating:

Of the differences between writing prose and poetry, she said in an interview with Willow Springs: “I feel like prose comes much more from outside me than poetry does. Poetry is intimate and more generated in my own theater, shall we say. But in prose I have to be responsive to that story that’s coming to me and there has to be some part of me that goes out to meet it.”

I wonder how many other writers feel that way.

If you’re a Tess Gallagher fan, please let me know which poems and collections I should seek out!