Iowa Writes

RICHARD VAUGHAN
An Open Letter to Gravity
March 19, 2011


Dear Gravity,

I wish to express my gratitude for keeping me firmly anchored to the ground. Without your assistance I may have simply detached and floated off into the atmosphere, a bit like I did on a few random occasions in graduate school. And it is comforting to know in advance my destination should I stumble. However, I should like to discuss a few of the finer points of our friendship.

It has become clear to me that I am getting shorter. At my last physical examination the nurse said my weight was the same, just packed in a smaller basket. Humans are a bit like balloons. If you press down on the top, the sides naturally bulge. I bring this to your attention because you, as a force rather than a form, may be unfamiliar with the difficulty. Think for a moment what it would be like if you had the problem. How well would you handle the threat of fat ankles?

Another difficulty I have noticed is that under your influence the shifting of mass impels the toes outward: my shoe size has increased considerably with age. If this continues I shall soon resemble a small round object with large ears perched atop a pair of size twenty-eight Reeboks. I wondered, out of respect for our long friendship, if you could perhaps lighten up a bit.

I would also like to bring up the subject of your influence on human hair. I have noticed mine traveling steadily southward. I suspect that your constant presence is the root cause of my root displacement, and the hair that used to rest atop my head now pops up in the most outrageous places: the inside of my ears, the tip of my nose. It's most discouraging.

Dear Gravity,

I wish to express my gratitude for keeping me firmly anchored to the ground. Without your assistance I may have simply detached and floated off into the atmosphere, a bit like I did on a few random occasions in graduate school. And it is comforting to know in advance my destination should I stumble. However, I should like to discuss a few of the finer points of our friendship.

It has become clear to me that I am getting shorter. At my last physical examination the nurse said my weight was the same, just packed in a smaller basket. Humans are a bit like balloons. If you press down on the top, the sides naturally bulge. I bring this to your attention because you, as a force rather than a form, may be unfamiliar with the difficulty. Think for a moment what it would be like if you had the problem. How well would you handle the threat of fat ankles?

Another difficulty I have noticed is that under your influence the shifting of mass impels the toes outward: my shoe size has increased considerably with age. If this continues I shall soon resemble a small round object with large ears perched atop a pair of size twenty-eight Reeboks. I wondered, out of respect for our long friendship, if you could perhaps lighten up a bit.

I would also like to bring up the subject of your influence on human hair. I have noticed mine traveling steadily southward. I suspect that your constant presence is the root cause of my root displacement, and the hair that used to rest atop my head now pops up in the most outrageous places: the inside of my ears, the tip of my nose. It's most discouraging.

I am grateful, however, to have known in advance of your effect on human skin. As an observant child I became aware of wrinkles, sagging necks and drooping cheeks, so I never got a tattoo. One can never be sure of the final landing place of a stenciled butterfly.

I remain thankful for your constancy, but would request that you try to not hold me too closely. As for your invitation to join you for tea, not yet, dear friend.

Sincerely,

Richard Vaughan

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


RICHARD VAUGHAN

Richard Vaughan recently retired to Iowa City from New Mexico, where for 17 years he was a member of the English faculty at San Juan College.

This page was first displayed
on June 15, 2011

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