Sorting Mail, circa 1967

Most of the time Bernice stares at the painted window,
wishing for the sun.
She rubs her palms against her slacks for sweat,
touches fingertips to tongue
for traction in the stacks
of bleached envelopes.

She daydreams—
love letters passing through her cracked hands,
a romance between a housewife and her postman.

She eyes cautiously the men
as they load their sacks
and imagines holding that weight
herself. Nothing more
than she’s carried as a roofer’s wife—
the tar stench, beer breath, calloused hands on her face.

Nothing more than a straight trade:
aching feet and paper-cut fingers
for sweat stains, dog bites,
and bottomless bags of love letters.

But she’s stuck with the junk mail.

An advertisement in her stack warns
that field mice can fit through a hole no larger than a nickel.
Staring at the dingy window,
she wonders what it takes
to pull the sun through
to make it burn inside. Autumn Konopka is a poet and teacher, nonprofit devotee and democratic socialist, amateur piemaker, burgeoning knitter, tenative Spanish speaker, and ferocious Philadelphia Eagles fan.

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