Sylvia’s Letter

When I bought a book in a charity shop I found a mysterious birthday collage inside the cover. Fijay from Blog On! and I decided we would both do our own versions of the story behind the message in the book.

I bought a book by Shel Silverstein in a charity shop. He wrote Sylvia’s Mother. It was a book of his drawings and poetry for children. I remembered buying the same book once, in New York, and bringing it home and reading it for my children. There was a birthday message, pasted as a collage, inside the book and a cryptic note to whomever it was intended. I mentioned this to fellow blogger, Fijay who has many theories about what was going on. So, I suggested she post a blog about her interpretation and I would post mine.

Now my first experience of Shel Silverstein was as a songwriter. He wrote A Boy Named Sue for Johnny Cash and a string of classics for Dr Hook and The Medicine Show, like I Got Stoned and I Missed it, Freakers’ Ball, Queen of the Silver Dollar and, of course,that great, tongue in cheek, country weepie,  Sylvia’s Mother.

A person’s mind can work in strange ways so I thought of Sylvia, for some reason or other, on that 9 O’Clock train to Galveston and how she might’ve left a message for that boy on the phone whom her mother wouldn’t let speak to her. What kind of message did she leave him and what did it mean? You can read the other side of this story by tapping the link to Blog On!, Fijay’s blog, later this evening.

Sylvia sent a letter to Scott
She paste it in a book
so he could never
 say he forgot.
It’s a memoir of poems,
of when he was young
and cared not a jot
about rules and regulations,
 balancing books

Sylvia’s on a train south,
she’s leaving for good.
He told her he loved her
then left with that tramp
so she’s off to the Gulf
to stroll in the sand,
to surf in the waves,
attend a few raves

She left him a message,
to teach him a lesson,
about karma that’s bad
and karma that’s good.
He’s a black hearted fool
who left her to cry
while he broke the rule,
she wished he could die

Scott got the book,
 read her bitter, sad note
She signed it from Heather
but he knew it was her
a memo to him
about when he was young,
 wrote nonsense poetry
and left chocolate kisses
on her pillow at night

Life got too serious,
the bills just piled up.
He worked  and worked
to keep them afloat.
He wanted a family.
She wanted to party.
They argued and fought,
he blamed her
for sinking the boat

So there they are
at the end of the road
his mistakes, he knew,
drove her away,
 but to balance the scales
there are always two sides
to this sad story
that may never be told

where the sidewalk ends.



36 thoughts on “Sylvia’s Letter

  1. This is such a fun post, Dermott. I love it! : ) I would imagine the kid leaning over the edge in the picture could be you. As to the writing, unique and insightful, as usual. A very revealing, inspiring post. Thank you!

    • I can’t take credit for the picture, Shel Silverstein did his own illustrations. You should check out Fijay’s blog. She has a different take on it. Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      • Yes, perhaps you and Mr. Silverstein are perhaps a little kindred in spirit. I will check out Fijays post. In the meantime I was inspired myself, perhaps a Sepr 25 re-post would be appropriate. Have an amazing day.

      • You know this all started with the collage style birthday card (the illustration at the top of the story) so there are verbal references to those images and the message, in the poem. Fijay and I wondered what happened for the book to turn up in a charity shop 15 years after it was given as a gift and why was it never read. It was brand new and untouched. Have a go at it yourself, look at the picture, figure it out and see if it can prompt your story. It would be a laugh if we could get a whole gang of bloggers at it.

      • The bookstore reference is even more intriguing. It reminds me of the Serendipity movie. You were meant to find it. Destiny.
        Btw, thank you for sharing you couldn’t access my blog, I didn’t know that, but perhaps the mystery is best for now. I’ll look into Ii. : )

  2. Reblogged this on Postcard from a Pigeon and commented:

    This is where it all started and, frankly, explains the unsightly plaster stuck to the collage, I needed something to cover ‘Heather’s’ name because I’ve written it as Sylvia’s letter to her boyfriend saying all the things she wanted to say to him but couldn’t because her mother (Sylvia’s Mother) wouldn’t let him come to the phone.

  3. Dermott, so late I am with this one, but I was really glad to finally get to try my hand. I like to hope that these two had a happier ending than the one they seem to have been given.
    Thanks for including me and, as always, thanks for sharing. I enjoyed your post.

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