Letter from Missoula

(for Dan Breeden)


I was lost before I was lost,

missed myself in Charlo, Dixon,

then Perma, Paradise, Plains,

a side trip to Somers, Elmo,


Polson on the way back. Seems 

I cannot get a compass right,

let alone figure some way out —

Alberton as a start, St. Regis,


Mullan, Kellogg, by chance find

the Spokane, the Columbia,

Camas, Astoria, the sea.

A lover who loves rescue says


rent a cabin up the Swan, plant 

strands of wire, wait until spring,

see if barbs grow. Better, I move

to France, find a flat, sleep alone,


dream I become a philosopher

of loss — like Duras find it, itself,

not to be the end, instead,

a great darkness falling, merely


the beginning of forgetting —

a way to speak of love that’s lost,

to become certain the end 

does not become the end.

                              Timothy Pilgrim