Going through some old papers
which have just reached me from our native land,
I found a contract we both signed back then
when you were still a publisher, and I a writer.
Well, “the said agreement stipulates”
I owe you one per cent “in the event
of foreign sales.” The book sold, Theodore.
Foreigners, ever since the dictatorship,
have taken enormous interest in whatever
we tell them about the good old days before it.
But now, that money, where can I send it?
On Leros, I realize, it would never reach you.
Letters are sent back stamped UNKNOWN from there.
They wouldn’t let you receive so much as a box
of food and clothing. And I have been upset
because you hadn’t, not until this debt,
been on my mind at all. So tell me, what
shall I do about it? Put it in a bank
in your name for you to collect as soon as
they let you out? Or try to have some third
person take it to your family?
I know so well, I can see that shrug of your shoulder
where once you caught a chill—as if to say,
“Stop worrying, just drink it up to my health.”
How are you, Theodore? How are you feeling?
I remember noons at the bookstore—now, I hear,
A ‘House of Italian Imports.’ Well. Ah well.
All must start afresh from the beginning.
Obviously. And will start. Yes. As for
that one per cent, I write you about it only
because, as the saying goes careful accounts
make good friends.
September 24, 1970