My mailman

Kate MacLam

walks around the neighborhood

with his ray gun ready.

I should probably call him

a mail carrier, given that there is nothing

inherently male about his job

and, if anything, hauling around bags

filled with other people’s bullshit

is a feminine activity.

Heck, sometimes my mailman

is a woman. And she does a better job

than any man. She never listens to Metallica

or texts her ailing mother on the job.

She stares, head forward, focused

on her mission, focused on the mail.

My mail! Which she will never

know anything about other than

its weight and how tired it makes her.

I think truly loving someone

is being just as happy for them

when they get mail

as when you get mail yourself.

And the mark of a good mailman

is that happiness, some of that Christian shit,

for everyone. A good mailman is grateful

for the opportunity to bring you joy —

say, an excellent credit card offer

or a Christmas card

from your former neighbor

who is senile now

but you’re glad is alive,

and it’s a little mean, but

his note is pretty funny. A good

mailman knows the good and the bad

arrive together, like, for example,

when you receive an obituary cutout

in a wedding card or a bill so discreet

you think it might be a love letter

from a particularly attractive ex-lover

and are tricked into opening it.

A good mailman laughs and cries with you.

Even in the winter

when she is wearing her ski pants

and runs the risk of the tears

freezing to her face.


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