Issue 5 – Cotton

Anna Cotton

Note to Charlotte from Dear Reader

Would that you were here
to thank you for your book.

I’d tell you I’ve read
your book more than once.
When I was young I loved the passion,

the wild weather,
inner and outer.

Now I’m noticing more
in the details, and
I’d like to tell you
I loved how you deconstructed
official men of God,
stuffy men,
stuffed full of their own ideas
of how to honor God,
which looked a lot like honoring them.

I’d tell you
I loved how you showed solutions
to sticky problems
like what to do at Lowood
when so many of the girls died,
lighten up on the rules,
loosen one man’s control,
let a committee work together.

I’d tell you
I loved that you made Jane
a successful teacher
who found joy in moving girls forward.

I loved how you made Jane
plain, like me, a woman
yearning to breathe
learning to balance
turning tears and pain
into meaningful work and prayers.

And I really appreciate
how you enabled her to choose Edward
at the end when he had been humbled
and needed her for his healing.
But you didn’t let her rub it in;
you let the mystery of love win.

But none of us are fooled—
There is no “happily ever after.”

He was blind, and broken,
And I suspect he tired
of her straightening
his collar, his tie,
his pants.

And I bet they
talked about Bertha
more than a little
before they let it go
so they could go on
to love deeply and completely.

I’d tell you
I am a fan of your writing.
I often wish
I had been you
creating whole worlds
with the magic of ink
and imagination.

I’d tell you
your book is a gift
to women who want to be whole,
to all who want to be holy.
And I’m sorry you,
who gave us so much,
didn’t have more for yourself.