‘Imagine all those people who’ll never get their letters…’

I’d forgotten I’d written another poem based around a Coventry experience – going to pick up a letter.

Images of letters and the postal service seem to crop up in my writing – a post man (post-man?) has been eaten in a story I’m writing (called Human Waste, which I’ll post up soon) and the last story I read at Folk Tales – ‘Whale Fall’ – had a post box and its contents being stolen by Giant Isopods. ‘Think of all those people who’ll never get their letters,’ says an old Bristolian lady looking on.

Maybe that’s the image: how many of us never receive the messages others send, or vice-versa.

Earlier on, I was looking into getting a Royal Mail bike, but I’m not sure you can. Shame. I thought I could be rather Mercurial on it – winging around imbued with potential messages which I may or may not manage to send. There’s something pleasing about it. And I just like the redness of the uniform and the bikes.

Anyway – here’s what I wrote:

I needed the key
in the letter
from the form
but the plexi-glass laughed
with only second-class mirth
for returning (as it stated)
only two hours
post attempt
at 0752.
In the queue
on the wall
of this modernist monolith
taken from a brother
of the concrete Duplo briquettes
from the background
where this solo family photo’s set.

‘You shouldn’t trust the form,’
she said, the red of the P740
flashing through her crowned chest
and to her eyes. I smile
but with no return address. Next
to the strata’d grey and brown
of the window back in, a
war memorial reads:
‘To all those who fell
in the Two Great Wars from…’

But the words cannot be seen
perhaps the letters never delivered
in this light, or left clear for
[Your Name Here]

As I pass beneath
the oblong grey
the frame splits:
I watch myself approach the door
from the other side,
inside-out, my red-handed
Sooner-or-later self.

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