Iowa Writes

A Letter From Barbara

I asked you to tell me what I owe,
What you lost for my not being near you,
The fine I should pay for the shared air I stole,
The rent for the angry words I took for myself from us two.

You told me I will make right by being a distant good
For some people we do not know,
For children who are eaten by soldier machines,
For mothers tortured back to every yesterday.
I will pay you by listening to screams for words I took away,
I will apologize to the dying
For ignorant nights I spent walking by myself
Under the illusions of imaginary rainbows,
For the days when I was alone writing with my toes
In the sand at the edge of the sea of ourselves
That no human wind or weather can control.

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


Vic Camillo teaches at the University of Iowa. "A Letter from Barbara" first appeared in The Iowa Review 36.2 (Spring 2006). More of his writing can be found at his web site.

Vic Camillo's website

This page was first displayed
on June 04, 2006

Find us on Facebook