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A Poem is a Letter Opener

and it is the letter that is answered

or not answered, held first by the uncle

who sorted it on his graveyard shift

in the postal service warehouse,

after which it became the postman

going from box to box, each box

a particular face like a dog’s, the dog

that is also a poem, its eyes dark

like the water in a well, its fur smelling

like grass that is also a poem, green

and exclamatory in spring, later

turning the color of rubber-bands,

which are also poems, holding

together the pencils, the tip-money,

the small stone in the sling-shot right

before it takes flight, the stone that

looks like a tiny skull, granite like death,

a piece of the night left in the middle

of the day, which is also a poem,

starting with its whisper campaign

of morning light, the light touching

the clean sidewalk, the light touching

the sign in the window that says

“No Crying Allowed In This Shop,”

the sign itself a poem, like the dusk

that comes like a cowl around us,

to the sick uncle, to the thieving uncle,

to the uncle who sleeps in the day,

his sleep careful as a tea ceremony

or a poem, a poem that is old and full

of days, a poem like an old china

plate that is the color of time, the dusk

having its supper of fog and people

walking through the fog, the fallen

leaves in the parks like strewn credit

cards, which are also poems, like

the typewriter writing the letter

one little tooth at a time, one love at

a time, in our city of paper and crows.

from Poetry Northwest WEBMore by Rick Barot from the library

Copyright © Rick Barot
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Published in Poems Rick Barot

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.