American Life in Poetry: 'At the Post Office'


By TED KOOSER
U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006 |
November 05. 2012 6:44PM






David Hernandez is a Californian who knows how to have a good time with his writing. Here's a delightful flight of fancy based on a negotiation with a postal clerk.

At the Post Office

The line is long, processional, glacial,

and the attendant a giant stone, cobalt blue

with flecks of white, I'm not so much

looking at a rock but a slab of night.

The stone asks if anything inside the package

is perishable. When I say no the stone

laughs, muted thunderclap, meaning

everything decays, not just fruit

or cut flowers, but paper, ink, the CD

I burned with music, and my friend

waiting to hear the songs, some little joy

after chemo eroded the tumor. I know flesh

is temporary, and memory a tilting barn

the elements dismantle nail by nail.

I know the stone knows a millennia of rain

and wind will even grind away

his ragged face, and all of this slow erasing

is just a prelude to when the swelling

universe burns out, goes dark, holds

nothing but black holes, the bones of stars

and planets, a vast silence. The stone

is stone-faced. The stone asks how soon

I want the package delivered. As fast

as possible, I say, then start counting the days.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright 2011 by David Hernandez from his most recent book of poems, "Hoodwinked," Sarabande Books, 2011. Reprinted by permission of David Hernandez and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
FOLLOW US
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow our RSS feed
Union Leader app for Apple iPad or Android *
Click to download from Apple Apps StoreClick to download from Android Marketplace
* e-Edition subscription required

A&E

Example blog post alt Manchester shows will be among final performances of Ringling Bros. circus
Example blog post alt Lakes Region eagerly anticipating Colonial Theatre's rebirth
Example blog post alt Hip-hop poet Aaron Jefferis caps residency with punchy performance
Example blog post alt ‘Our Secrets’ to make U.S. premier on Hanover stage
Example blog post alt Iranian-born artist Bahar Behbahani conjures sense of home
Example blog post alt League of NH Craftsmen are ‘Setting the Standard’ with next exhibition