xxviii.  learning aid
by Theresa Williams

7 february

dear simon warren, digging through a bin at the
recycle center i found a book, the inside cover
inscribed—dalton elmore—in childish script,
copyright 1981.  dalton, then, is doubtless grown, and
if following the expected order of things, married
with daltons of his own.  on the other hand dalton
elmore may be with us no more.  he may be on the
other side.  he may be very much beyond us now.  

imagine, in this case, the case of the absent boy, a
room perfectly preserved, the boyhood things neatly
placed.  imagine the book i found in the bin among
these things.  it s about bugs.  i carried it home for my
own shelves.   but imagine the case of an absent boy,
the boyhood room cleaned out, dalton s parents
perhaps having turned over a new leaf.  or, perhaps
being absent themselves, having simply gone on to
whatever the next thing is.  

how good of them, in either case, to preserve dalton s
book until the very last moment so i can read that
insects have no lungs, but holes and tubes, that they
have no nose but hairlike things with which they
smell, that they taste with antennae or the undersides
of their feet.  in the back of the book is an ad for a
learning aid that challenges a youngster to go beyond
and another for bookshelves of walnut or oak, the
real meaning of stability.  i remember, in another life,
thinking some things went on forever.  

there s a drawing of a little boy, hands in the dark air,
points of light swirling like van gogh s stars.  let me
tell you now what i ve learned.  some kinds of fireflies
don t eat, they mate and then they die, but o my god,
the larva—the horror—the larva creeps with its belly
along the earth and poisons prey with its mouthparts.
let me tell you, the hornets, by summer s end when
the nest is dry, the males and princesses fly away and
they do not return.  i ve not heard from you in some


Theresa Williams’s poem is from her collection, the eternal
.  Parts of the eternal network have appeared or are
forthcoming in
Thrush, The New Poet, Infinity’s Kitchen,
qarrtsiluni, Twelve Stories, Weave, Rufous City Review,
Lingerpost, and other magazines.  Her chapbook The Galaxy
to Ourselves
is just out from Finishing Line Press.

On “xxviii.  learning aid”:
I’ve always enjoyed writing letters but only recently discovered
how connected they are to my creative life.  Many of the works
I’ve been writing and having published lately are real letters
written to real people, and “learning aid” is one of these works.  
Each recipient brings out something new in me, a way of seeing or
connecting, that feels profound.  It isn’t necessary for me to know
the recipient well—or at all.  What’s important is the thought of
a human connection, someone on the other side waiting for my

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 7, Number 1
(Spring 2012)

Copyright © 2012
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.