The Postman

By Reena

Even now I sense a gentle flutter,

mild anticipation

at the mailbox,

my earnest sentry that stands

a hollowed out box

of lost connection

affronting the house

in precarious quixotic stance.

Even as these days

colorful papers arrive

to deliver nothing

to tear open and read

No long awaited letters

delivering dreams or love

Reassurances on a postcard

from a traveling friend

Tall claims with pictures of vistas

that fade memories before the ink

No telegram with congratulations

or even a birthday wish!

As if the world ghosted us

before that was even a thing!

Mostly I march arriving sheaf of papers

straight to the recycle bin

I wonder if the mailman watches me

make this rude terminal jaunt

to promptly dump what he delivered

for shredding and pulping this load

however it is they recycle these days,

inventing new uses and wants

Some say recycling does nothing —

they don’t even sort the paper from plastic!

Yet I choose to imagine the paper is rebirthed

with loftier ambition, transformed

into kites drifting skyward carrying dreams,

or earthly bags to ferry our loads

or covers for earnest journals we write in

when we tire from punching keyboards

I remember a time our handwriting

an extension of our talents and foibles

was something we self-consciously owned

a hearkening to the days when

our fingers etched in ink and lead

papered spaces for our lonely souls!

Remember the time you and I wrote endless pages,

streams we let flow across the seas

envelopes sealed and delivered by the “postman”

grandly British in his designated title

Sometimes arriving once a month

and if our luck held, maybe twice

yours articulately stamped “By Airmail” intrepid musafirs* on his Hero bicycle

transmitting long accounts of our days apart

so I could know what it was like, as could you

the restless grayness of our hours, faded colors

that only our reunion could paint afresh.

A life together we sketched on those pages,

engraved, entwined; no one divining the hearts enclosed.

So when he arrived on Holi & Diwali for a baksheesh**,

I weighed in: his demand is entirely well earned!

How we laughed on our wedding day at the telegram

that arrived with a “massage” of love?

Was it the sender’s folly, misspelling or

perhaps a diligent postal clerk determined

the “message” demands a robust transcription

for a whole sensation for love?

In these ambitious times, does the mailman yearn

to bring a long awaited transmission?

I wonder as the trees on my street age and sigh

despite gratitude for what came to be

sometimes an ache for those days of letters,

while love still arrives in texts and memes.

Yet surprises do come, but differently:

for a few months it was a mailwoman plying my street

What a curiosity she would have been for the world

of my childhood; lugging mail on a “ladies” bicycle!

Those months she tries hard to befriend Dishoom***

who has no use for her delivery routine

“Threat Level 2!” he’d shout to me daily,

forever on his barking guard

Persistently, but in vain,

and as testimony to good intentions,

she’d leave him a cookie or two.

I wondered at her benevolent overtures

Was it her way of trying regretfully

to make some human connection,

knowing the load she must deliver –

that inert pile of paper – couldn’t possibly make!

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