I. Protocol


We have a reputation

for losing our minds,

going postal, suicide.


Human is to want to open

what is not open.


My job, to never



Sometimes I want to ask

the women on their doorsteps

to unseal a package

in front of me.


Just one.



II. Arlene


The lines are long,

you don’t know how we wait

to lock the door at closing.

Everybody has an agenda.

Tapping your feet like

waiting is a consequence

of my slow stamp.


A smile costs more than forty-four cents,

I am not responsible for raising that price

but thank you for asking again.

I don’t do the billing, just take the checks

and with them the blame

for the wars and the lateness,

your empty stomach

and every red light on the way home.


III. Weekday


Every morning I stay

to see her, barefoot

down the path, baby slung

on her hip.


I can’t open her letters,

but read the addresses, count

birthday cards and

bundle them together so

she’ll see them all at once.


Sometimes in the truck I flip

through her catalogues,

touching every page

I see us inside.


We have the life with the dog—

striped sheets and beach bags,

down pillows to break

open and dance under, feathers tangled

in our hair.


IV. Transit


Return to sender,

no final destination

— so close to home



Rachel L. Snyder received her MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in The FictionWeek Literary Review, Bird’s Eye reView, and Quick Lucks, and is forthcoming in Big Lucks. She teaches writing at SUNY Purchase College, and spends most of her time outside in New York, listening.

There was a month last year when I found myself frequenting the post office more often than usual. I spent a week trying to inhabit the minds of postal workers in my poetry, and chiseled this series from that. My imagined postal workers deliver the secrets of entire neighborhoods, but are forbidden to know them. Every day, they have to suppress this human, primal curiosity and disengage.  If it were I, the greatest reward would be to see what’s inside.



Copyright 2009