Tobi Cogswell

How to Live a Love Letter


Steam apples with cinnamon on the stove.

He will either think you are having an open house

or make love to you right there in the kitchen.

It will be hot and awkward – the slate floor

and drawer-pulls are not as soft as a bed,

but much closer to the scent of Thanksgiving

and Christmas.


Sleep in his nightshirt.  Tuck the front of it

between your legs part of the night.  He will

smell himself on you tonight as he drifts to sleep,

your arm hugging a circle around his chest.

Tomorrow night he will wear you on his body.

He will recognize you when he pulls it over

his head.  If he throws the shirt in the laundry

on day three, sleep in your own clothes

from then on.


Drop crumbs of your heart as you walk through

your day.  He will either sweep them up

or follow them, collecting them as he goes

so no one else can follow them.  You will

find him standing in front of you, puzzling

the crumbs into the shape of your absent

part, offering them back with open palms.


Paint a watercolor of yellow tulips,

a Provencal cloth, lemongrass

scattered about the canvas, a mug

of Earl Grey in the corner

and his hands.  Hang it on your side

of the bed.  If he does not know

his hands he’ll mistake this

for a collage born of homesickness

for Giverny and all things French.

Otherwise he’ll know you always

want him near you, and sight

is sense just like touch.


Start cooking.  Make beef stroganoff

and lasagna with white sauce.  Make shrimp

any way except curry.  Shortbread

for dessert with strawberry ice cream

even though you like chocolate.  He will

either think you are saving money

for something he forgot, or know

he is adored and well taken care of.

If he eats with furrowed brow, for a fact

it is the former.  If he opens a nice wine

and holds your other hand while you toast

and sip, he knows he’s the one.


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Tobi  Cogswell- cropped Rhode IslandTobi Cogswell is a two-time Pushcart nominee.  Credits include or are forthcoming in Illya’s Honey, REAL, Iodine Poetry Journal, Slipstream, StepAway (UK), Turbulence (UK), Front Porch Review, Rufous Salon (Sweden), Alligator Stew (UK), Ballard Street Poetry Journal, Bacopa, Compass Rose, The Broken Plate, Border Crossing, I-70 Review, Incandescent (UK), Agenda Poetry (UK) and Pale House – Letters to Los Angeles. Her latest chapbook is “Surface Effects in Winter Wind”, (Kindred Spirit Press).  She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

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