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A Letter for Kwil


A Letter for Kwil

By Kalen Marquis

Frizzy, fuzzy, green-nosed Kwil lived in a tiny house along a winding road that wandered here, there, and everywhere. The old, potholed road meandered past farms, bogs, and acres of lush, green meadow. It followed the river until it finally broke free, hightailing it into the mystical, magical town of Kwilville.

Each morning Kwil would sit on the stoop of the porch. He would sit and wait, his big, bulging eyes squinting in the sunlight as he watched the rectangular mailbox which seemed to teeter on its high wooden mount.

The top of the newly painted box was a brilliant white and the bottom was a soft robin’s egg blue but the whole thing, unless you bent your neck to look just so, was lopsided. The wide metal box, so wide and smooth, did not seem to fit the old, spindly wooden post. But it was not the mailbox that mattered to Kwil.

It was the many exciting things that might, as if by magic, find shelter there! There were long, white envelopes with clear cello windowpanes showing Kwilville addresses in crisp, black type. There were coupon books with bright, gummy stickers that Kwil would tear out and stick here and there. There were slippery magazines folded gently in half. Sometimes there would be a thick catalogue wrapped in shiny see-through plastic. This catalogue, full of glossy pictures, was the stuff of every Kwil kid’s dreams.

But that catalogue, as mouth-watering as it was, was not the stuff of Kwil’s dreams. Kwil’s dreams did come by mail but they could not be ordered from a catalogue. Kwil’s dreams came neatly folded and tucked in an envelope with a stamp in the upper right-hand corner! They came as came as words--thoughts feelings and ideas lightly etched on a smooth, thin page. Kwil’s dreams--the ones that made his heart race and his belly do flip-flops--always took the form of a freshly written letter!

Sometimes a letter might come from family or friends in town. Other times, it might be from a neighbour who had moved far away. Still other times it would not be a letter at all; it would be a picture postcard from some happy, homesick traveler. For Kwil, there was nothing like the thrill of getting his very own letter or a Christmas or birthday card. Nothing, that is, except a letter from his favourite grandma. She was the one who lived in the city and sent "all the love an envelope can hold.” Like Kwil, she loved to write using the fanciest note paper but she would sign, “Lots of love, Grandma, X0X0” in handwriting that was so silky-smooth it seemed to have floated down upon the page like a feather drifting daintily from the sky.

It was with these thoughts in mind that Kwil would sit on the stoop of the porch, his giant yellow pencil with its rubbery pink eraser beside him, wondering if today would be the day. Even as he got older, Kwil’s mouth would open wide and he would feel the fireworks in his chest as Pete the mailman would finally appear, driving his little red car with its steering wheel on the right-hand side. Just seeing the little red car as it rounded the corner made Kwil’s heart beat faster, thumping madly in his chest. Would today be his lucky day?

Every day Pete would screech to a stop alongside that peculiar blue and white mailbox that looked like a battle-weary soldier ready to take its last breath, toppling stiffly over out of Pete’s grasp. From the porch, Kwil would watch Pete check the box for any outgoing mail and see if he raised the little metal flag that signaled new mail! Would the flag go up? Little Kwil watched Pete’s movements carefully, like a detective looking for clues. The little flag was cherry red like a matador’s cape but Kwil was not a bull. Instead, he imagined that he was a race car that had pulled up to the starting line, excitedly waiting for the flag, anxious for the race to begin.

* * *

As Kwil grew up, his love of letters grew stronger. When he started school and began to read and write, he was enchanted to think that people all around the world would sit at desks and tables to read and write letters to family and friends. He imagined them sitting in a cozy classroom, a library, an apartment tower, a coffee shop, or maybe even a wide, wooden porch like his own. Some he dreamily pictured locked in the dungeon of an old, stone castle, sprawled out on the floor of a tall tree fort, or settling comfortably into the rocky folds of a cliff that shaded a babbling brook. They would all be enjoying the wonders that tumbled out from inside the walls of a tightly sealed envelope!

Kwil knew that some letters would be written in the city and others in the country. Some would be written in countries far and away, the parts of the Earth that he only knew about from books and television. He imagined the world’s people, many using languages very different from his own, sending letters that would crisscross the globe by car, truck, boat, plane, and train, each one making its own unique journey before arriving in just the right mailbox.

To Kwil, each letter, every thought-filled page, was like a magic carpet woven from the brightest, shiniest threads. Each wonder-filled thread was a string of letters and words that knit thoughts and feelings together, spinning them into a magical fabric that whisked into the air, whirling the most precious human stories into time and space.

Kwil was amazed to think of absolute strangers--”pen pals” they were called--who would write to each other and, over time, become the best of friends. One day, perhaps when they were grown and had families of their own, they might meet. After all those years of writing, they would steam across deep, dark oceans, clickety-clack across wide open plains, or hurtle through cotton candy skies.

As he grew to be a frizzy-fuzzy teenager, Kwil loved to read books and watch movies about a time when freshly inked and wax-sealed letters would make their way across town by messengers in smart suits, often being passed off to cloaked footmen in great horse-drawn carriages. He thought of ladies in lacy dresses sitting at fancy writing tables and gentlemen at big, wooden desks, all writing letters and poems in the finest hand. He imagined himself at a desk overlooking the valley of Kwilville, writing long-long into the night by the dancing light of a candle set in a growing puddle of molten wax.

* * *

Kwil eventually grew up and left his tiny house high in the hills of Kwilville with its lopsided blue and white mailbox. He moved away to the city like his grandma and studied at a big university. He studied for many years, reading thick-thick books and writing essays with the biggest, fanciest words.

Then, with a mind filled with bookish wisdom and wonder, Kwil returned home to Kwilville as a teacher. He loved helping his young students learn about themselves and each other using the most mystical, magical stories and poems. As much as he loved his “Kwil kids,” “Mr. Kwil” (as his students called him) realized that he was not especially good at math, science, and some of the things that every Kwilementary teacher must teach. This, at times, made him sad.

But there was one thing that always cheered him up. Letters! Glorious, glorious letters!

More than anything, Kwil loved writing to his students and they loved writing back. Kwil kept a mailbox on his desk and it always filled with stories, poems and pictures that made him smile, laugh, and cry! Notes and letters came and went like homing pigeons from his many mailboxes. All through the school year and especially during holidays, Kwil kids would write to him--sending letters to his Kwilville mailbox, the electronic mailbox in his computer, and the mailbox on his desk in class. These notes and letters made his frizzy-fuzzy heart dance, doing gigantic leaps, twirls and back flips in the air.

Kwil gradually came to understand and accept deep down that writing was the way he was meant to teach. Although it was sometimes hard to accept that he might never be good at teaching subjects like math and science, he sensed that those letters made him a good teacher--the only kind of teacher he knew how to be.

As the years rolled on, Kwil found joy as a teacher, librarian and counsellor who spent his days telling stories and helping Kwil kids to realize that they “have the power to bring books to life—their life.” Moving his classroom mailbox to the Kwilementary library and then the counselling office, Kwil knew that as long as he could laugh and cry and listen and love, he would always be the teacher he wanted to be. He knew that as long as he could say all those things a loving teacher must say-- first in the quiet of his own mind and then in the finely etched lines of a letter--he would always know peace and joy.

Thinking about this, Kwil sat down at his big desk. He smiled joyfully as he slid open the drawer that held his finest writing paper. In a flash, he was writing with great silky strokes, the long, feathery plumes of his quill pen brushing the air, gentling tickling the fairies of love and laughter. This, my friends, is what he wrote. This is your letter from Kwil:

Go ahead! Write a letter! 

Do it right on the spot. 

Then mail it off to someone 

Who loves you a lot! 


If you have a grandma or grandpa, 

A parent or friend far away, 

Take a moment to write them. 

Send a letter their way. 


If there isn’t anyone else 

(Though I hope that’s not the case!) 

There is always my mailbox, 

There is always my place. 


I know that you’ll believe it. 

It’s not as wild as it seems, 

But a letter from you 

Is one of my dreams! 


You know my life story, 

What I’d do for a letter. 

You know that I’d think 

There isn’t anything better! 


You know that I’ll read it 

With a gleam in my eye. 

My dream will have come true 

But I’ll try not to cry. 


I’ll read your dear letter 

And then one day I will write 

Whether early, early morning 

Or late, late, late at night! 


I’m not rich or famous--

Just a frizzy, fuzzy,

green-nosed guy--

But when it comes to letters. . . 

Watch my pen fly! 


You know I’m not perfect 

Just a devoted pen friend. 

But I’ll match every letter 

From now till the end. 


Sure, I’ve got worries and troubles, 

I’ve made many mistakes 

But when it comes to dreams! 

I know what it takes! 


I can’t fix all your troubles 

Or scare your worries away. 

I can’t make your dreams come true 

Before the next rainy day. 


But I can listen and hear 

And this I deeply know. . .  

Writing, drawing, expressing 

Helps human hearts grow. 


There isn’t always much 

That another can say 

But creating and connecting 

Helps you on your way! 


So please fill my mailbox 

With your dear little letter. 

Share thoughts, feelings, stories. 

Is there anything better? 


I know you don’t really know me. 

(It’s probably better this way). 

I’m just a fellow dreamer 

And writing’s my play. 


You may think that I’m silly, 

Even foolish or funny, 

But nothing warms my heart 

Like a letter that’s sunny. 


I may not be Santa 

Loading toys upon a sleigh 

But I know about writing 

And the joy it’s brought my way. 


I’m right here. I’m waiting. 

Listening and learning’s my dream. 

Your words are like dessert, 

My peaches and cream. 


So that’s it. I’m going. 

I’ve got writing to do. . .  

But I’m watching my mailbox 

Like little Kwil used to! 


Please Remember: 

Just BE who YOU are 

And DO what YOU do 

Then all of life’s treasures 

Will come to you! 

(In fact, they’re INSIDE you!) 





© 1991 Kalen Marquis