Joan McBride


In the dark of winter
When I can’t find one of my slippers
I walk into Lily’s room and find
A manila envelope
And put it on my other foot

Maybe the envelope is
Large and buff-colored
And was hidden in
The closet or under papers

I walk around for hours
Listening to first the soft-foot
then the crinkle-foot fall
across the wooden floor
the rhythm breaks up

the thrum of the traffic
outside—that incoming tide
of black rubber and asphalt

I make sure the envelope
Is address-side up
So that it is a little decorative
I like the recipient address
All business-like with block letters

And the return address hand written
The ‘i’ dotted with a heart,
The tail of the ‘y’ spirals down
Like a whirlwind

I like looking down at
The fancy cancelled stamps
And the very squared toe,
And the ultra-wide fit.
But mostly I like
That I know where it came from
I have an understanding of its
Enveloped journey

Finally, I shake off the slipper
And insert my other foot into
The envelope.  Stretching I grab
A pen and celebrating my dexterity
And flexibility at fifty, I reach down to
Touch my toes and write in large red letters
Return to sender.

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