Sunday, May 17, 2020

Pandemic Elegy: The Mail (Brooks Barbour)

In childhood I waited expectantly for the carrier’s beige sedan to pull up to my parents’ mailbox, hoping for a Weekly Reader or letter from a penpal. It never ended, this hope that someone would send something, whether I bought it or exchanged a letter for it. Even now I wait. I know the carrier will appear in the late afternoon, walk up my driveway, and clang the metal box attached to the house. I was once the retriever of all mail, tail wagging, excitedly exiting the house to see what arrived, opening plastic sleeves of magazines, sliding my forefinger under the seal of an envelope, slicing the tape on a package. I opened them like gifts, didn’t I, those greeting cards, large envelopes of books, boxes of dog toys. Now my spouse unwraps every parcel. Only its contents enter the house.

Julie Brooks Barbour is the author of two full-length collections, Haunted City (2017) and Small Chimes (2014), both from Kelsay Books, and three chapbooks, including Beautifully Whole (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2015) and Earth Lust (Finishing Line Press, 2014). She is a Guest Artist Mentor for Wilson College’s MFA Program, and teaches writing at Lake Superior State University where she co-edits the journal Border Crossing.

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