(crumped on her desk)
Dear Bill: I’ve made a
couple of sandwiches for you.
In the icebox you’ll find
blueberries-a cup of grapefruit
a glass of cold coffee.
On the stove is the teapot
with enough tea leaves
for you to make tea if you
prefer-Just light the gas-
boil the water and put in the tea
Plenty of bread in the bread-box
and butter and eggs-
I didn’t know just what to
make for you. Several people
called up about office hours-
See you later. Love. Floss.
Please switch off the telephone.
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Like This Is Just to Say, Reply (Crumpled on Her Desk)
takes the form of a found poem, a refrigerator note-though it probably never got as far as the refrigerator, some literary critics speculate, Williams may have taken "a note left by his wife and turned it into a poem".
Flossie William's reply to "This Is Just to Say"
(from the note to the poem in The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, volume 1, 1909-1939, edited by A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan):
Florence William's "reply" to "This Is Just to Say" is included as a "Detail" in the partially published Detail & Parody for the poem Paterson (a manuscript at SUNY Buffalo); it first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly (November 1982), p. 145. Since WCW chose to include the reply in his own sequence it seems likely that he took a note left by his wife and turned it into a "poem."
The researcher goes on to relate that the text is taken from (Buffalo archives) typescript.
At first appearances a casual communication forgiveness is hidden by neither being offered nor refused. Flossie almost seems ridden with guilt, a familiar feeling among women today, guilt for leaving the house. It is a response to his tactic of eliciting not only forgiveness but permission to raid the icebox again. She walks him through making tea in case the cold coffee she has poured would not be satisfactory, proferring suggestions as to what he can make himself for a meal in case the sandwiches aren't what he wanted. A nervous and unsure remanding in motherly fashion, withdrawn and absent he's found her reply crumpled. Both ironic and affectionate, it is symbolically angry and instructional as if she has taken up raising her husband. With boyish and shifty charm William Carlos Williams has dared to eat plums and tells of bittersweet and troubling consequences.
Fisher-Wirth, Ann. "The Allocations of Desire: 'This Is Just to Say' and Flossie Williams's 'Reply.'" William Carlos Williams Review 22.2: 47-56. Osborn
Text taken from "Untitled":