The Letter

 

 

He sits in a chair reading a letter from home. I am not with him, but the scene is too familiar to me.

He has just received a letter sent from England, but unlike me he lives in the 19th century. It took 6 weeks for the letter to reach him from England. In the doorway stands an Australian Aborigine. The reader’s companions are present but not part of the reading.

He is fixed in time in a print. It is an image drawn in Australia by the painter Harder S. Melville, and printed in Great Britain by George Baxter.

I watch him and his companions, remembering what it was once like to receive letters. Something once called ephemera but now treated as personal history: a thing to be saved.

 

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