She sat when she was small
and Time was tall
and the unfolding of a house–
the way it yawned and roused
itself from the naps of houses–
she’d stayed home sick, alone–
they worked, they phoned–
filled her chest with fright
as if she’d sighted
in the hall–for she was small–
a gorilla or a thief–Time was so tall–
a robber in the closet–
she’d turned full hard the faucet
for the noise, the TV too–
but even the bright blue
of whitening power,
the game show of the hour,
could not crowd out
the terrible roust-about
of brick, of wall, nowhere at all
to run (for she was small, Time tall)
and she would walk out to the curb–
and yes, it sounds absurd
if you are big and time is short–
but for her it was a port
from roomside storm, and she would sit
beneath the mail box as if it
were a matter of an important letter,
as if she were important, or better,
as if she were, and of course, she was
which is exactly what she feared, because
if she was–she could be caught–
there, in the house where she thought
she heard the step of someone home,
someone who didn’t know that, yes, they phoned,
someone who could trap her in the bedroom or the hall
where there was nowhere to run at all,
if you were small and Time–too tall–

Here’s my draftish poem for April 4, written for Fireblossom (Shay’s) prompt on With Real Toads to write something about letters, the mail.  I am recycling the drawing (mine) from another somewhat different poem that uses some of the same imagery. 

Reading note–as some know, I am a big believer in punctuation, so typically in reading my poems, there are only pauses at the ends of lines, where punctuated. 


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15 Comments on “Mailbox”

  1. Mama Zen Says:

    This is so well done! I really like this.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    This is a rather terrifying tale, k,in the way that the most common and homely of things can become the most frightening–that shape in the dark that was a chair when the light was on, the mumbling of wind, the creaky board, the sigh of old houses–all so intimidating and alive to a child alone–and the mailbox seems a symbol of safety, where uniformed people do a particular thing, tying people together with letters and showing up, without fail, predictably, reassuringly. Or so I read–a very interesting and vivid poem that takes us inside a child’s mind–or, more accurately, back inside our own. The last six lines made the hair on my neck prickle.

  3. brian miller Says:

    there is such a feeling of alone and being afraid…time being tall was a cool line…but you convey it in the need for small noise to fill the space as well…

  4. Ella Says:

    I am scared and time is too tall-I agree such a great line! I love how you did this, the lyrical voice of meek and small. It crawls into my memories and I too remember time being too tall and feeling oh, so small! Bravo!

  5. This is perfect…it describes a latch key child so well or any child that spends time alone…So many things to bump and moan when a little one is left alone.

  6. Sumana Roy Says:

    love the vision through a child’s eye..

  7. This has the feel for me of an ee cummings’ poem, in the repetition and the surreal yet familiar scenario where one’s imagination blurs the lines of reality. Very affecting poetry.

  8. claudia Says:

    oh heck..i just wanna give her a hug and make her a cup of hot cocoa… the loneliness and fears so palpable in this…

  9. I so love this – when she was small and Time was tall…….so cool!

  10. Lindy Lee Says:

    Many of your drafts are better than many of the final products here on WordPress, none of the ones I follow of course. Tee! Hee!

  11. coalblack Says:

    Below the mailbox seems like a wide choice, in view of the scary alternatives!

  12. margaret Says:

    ” and the unfolding of a house–
    the way it yawned and roused”

    I always loved walking to our mailbox down our long drive way. I heard a tiny meow once and found a little white kitten in the tree line. He became my beloved Casper… to this day I remember holding him close and walking down the driveway barefoot – so afraid my mom wouldn’t let me keep him. (she really had NO choice 🙂

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