Dear Norman,

.                                        ?
          .                                              .
                             !                                             ,         ,                               .
“                             ,”      .                                                               ,
        .                                                                    .                .
                     ,                                                 .
        .                                                      ?
                                     .                             ,                                     .
            ,                        ,                        .
                   ,          ,                   ,             ?                                               .
                      ’                                                       :                       .
                         .                                           ?
           .                                                              .               .
                         ,           ,      ,    ,     ,                .                             ,
        ’                                 ’                         . ’                                     ,              ,
       , ’               .                :                 ,                 ,                       ,
    ?                              ?                                  ?


The chimney’s still standing, Norman.
The walls are as high as four feet in some places.
The night it happened, I fell from you like broken teeth.
Fell into a spider web,
A different kind of safety net.
Like you used to say,
It’s better than nothing.
I’m not saying you invented the phrase.
Lots of people say that.
But maybe not as often as you did.


What is the difference, Norman, between
Erasing, redacting, and scribbling out?
What about punching a hole right through the paper?
And which best describes what happened to you?
And what did it feel like?
And what did you in, Norman?
Was it the falling roof beam,
The ceiling collapsing like a lung?
Or the smoke?
In your final moments,
Did you see me sprinting for the door
Did you see your future like a cartoon tunnel
Scribbled on a cliffside?
Did you look up and see the waxing crescent moon?
How it held the scene like the second parenthesis?


I crave a “hop the fence” kind of certainty
I crave the truth,
Until it turns me brake light red.
And remember those earlier questions?
I don’t want an answer.
You’ve been gone exactly a year now,
Things are different now.
I have a cat named Thank You.
It’s always funny to call out
“Thank You” down an empty hallway
And watch a fat tabby come running.
It’s not as if things are easy now.
But I’m ashamed to admit they are not harder.
The 4 am darkness is just as dark as before.
And I hope that doesn’t offend you.
Some days I only see the sun
Through windows and mirrors.
And some days I only see the sun.
Some days, fireflies
And embers are the same.
And some days,
I punch a hole right through the paper,
Only to find a whole new book underneath.


About the Author

Benjamin Leuty is a senior in high school at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco. His work has appeared in his school literary journal Umläut. Benjamin is in the midst of a challenge to ride every street in San Francisco on his bike. Besides cycling, he spends his spare time reading, playing video games, and hopping up and down.