My dear, I, too, beg your pardon for having failed to send you in timely fashion my best wishes for the new year.

Defying all reason, spanning the New Year, my work in customer service, in retail, has been furiously busy – eight hours a day of relentless crowds of ravenous shoppers. Rationalised by the receipt of government-issued Covid-19 stimulus cheques, the general population cannot keep its few hundred apportioned dollars in its pockets, fearing the holes that will certainly be burned there should it linger.

Though the need in many cases – perhaps overwhelmingly – cannot be denied, the sense among most recipients is that of entitlement rather than gratitude; hence the impetus to spend their windfall as quickly, as recklessly, as possible. My cheque will be mailed. When received, it will be saved in contribution to my future travels – to return to my village in Anglesey, North Wales, to my homes either in Gabon or in the Philippines, or to some place I have never yet been.

The thought of you returning to your village brings a tear of joy to my eye, a caress of deep tenderness to my heart. A foolish whim, I imagine myself accompanying you, hand in hand, conducted from dwelling to dwelling, to be introduced to all you deem dear and, or significant. For your pleasure, to their honour, the privilege granted me as one not-merely-friend, nor-yet-spouse, presented before the entire parade of eyes, ears, hands, voices, my earnest adoration of you, my vowed commitment to you. I, your poet; you, my muse.

Thank you for writing to me. Inundated – cut adrift amidst a sea of supplicants – your light is my shore; my harbour, your embrace.

Happy New Year! My best and fondest wishes to you and to yours.