I moved into Buck's Cantonment post office slightly more than 26 years ago. The post office itself expanded and moved a mile or so down the highway last year, but we were able to keep the old box number, so there was barely a ripple except for the "new post office" smell and the nice new building.
Buck and I had been married about ten years, when I went to the post office one day to pick up our mail. I retrieved the mail from the box and then went through a glass door into the counter service area to buy stamps. There was a line. A lady standing behind me in line was apparently peeking at our mail, noticed our surname on it, and couldn't help herself.
"You must be Mr. Westmark's new wife!"
I turned to look at her broad, guileless face.
"Well, I may not be his new wife, but I am the most recent." I smiled, and coyly (or so I hoped), batted my medium-length eyelashes at this unintended bit of hilarity.
Anyway. The post office has its moments. Remember the box of fluffy yellow chicks that hopped right out onto the counter? That was fun.
Last Thursday was a real treat, though. A 5" x 7" padded white envelope was concealed in the middle of the stack of advertising circulars, come-ons for new car deals, the latest New Yorker, come-ons for various get-rich-quick (get-poorer-quicker) schemes, along with a few utility bills. I plucked out the padded envelope, saw it was addressed to me, with a return address from The Binnacle, University of Maine at Machias. I felt a tiny frisson of pleasure, knowing there was something interesting inside.
It is a clever presentation, appropriately Thumbelina-sized, of The Binnacle's Sixth Annual (2009) Ultra-Short Competition. At the top, the artful packet contains ten cards with my entry, "Glove," on one side, and a short bio on the other. The bottom section of the hand-designed box holds a card with the work of each of the other selected entrants. A cover insert card is a short letter from Gerard NeCastro to all of the authors. I think you'll agree it's an altogether sweet package, and classed up our p.o. box no end.
Prose entries are limited to 150 words. Here's a no eyestrain version of "Glove."
We live in a glove, the membrane between life,
living, death, amniotic floating and that
earlier time, this moment we think is the actual
moment and the realization it is gone.
I ponder the long white kid leather gloves with
pearl closures at the wrist that my
mother-in-law once wore. I found them wrapped in
white tissue paper after she died. They are
exquisite and completely anachronistic. I keep
them in a glass-topped case along with a
mother-of-pearl fan that belonged to her second
late husband's first late wife. When I open
the case and touch the gloves, I cannot say why.
Then there are the red knit mittens I bought to
take on a trip to New York City years ago,
adorable, itchy and useless against wet cold;
the elegant black leather gloves a size too
small; and the hated gardening gloves.
A glove leaves room for plausible deniability.