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American Life in Poetry

Sun., March 3, 2013, midnight

When spring finally arrives, it can be fun to see what winter left behind, and Jeffrey Harrison of Massachusetts is doing just that in this amusing poem.

Mailboxes in Late Winter

It’s a motley lot. A few still stand

at attention like sentries at the ends

of their driveways, but more lean

askance as if they’d just received a blow

to the head, and in fact they’ve received

many, all winter, from jets of wet snow

shooting off the curved, tapered blade

of the plow. Some look wobbly, cocked

at oddball angles or slumping forlornly

on precariously listing posts. One box

bows steeply forward, as if in disgrace, its door

lolling sideways, unhinged. Others are dented,

battered, streaked with rust, bandaged in duct tape,

crisscrossed with clothesline or bungee cords.

A few lie abashed in remnants of the very snow

that knocked them from their perches.

Another is wedged in the crook of a tree

like a birdhouse, its post shattered nearby.

I almost feel sorry for them, worn out

by the long winter, off-kilter, not knowing

what hit them, trying to hold themselves

together, as they wait for news from spring.

Poem copyright 2012 by Jeffrey Harrison. Poem reprinted from Southwest Review, Vol. 97, no. 1, 2012, by permission of the author and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

 

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