January 24, 2012

Kathryn Mockler

TWISTER

The Evangelical Christian
was so busy
tying up his shoelace
that he failed
to notice the twister
fast approaching.
When he finally stood up
and saw dark clouds
surrounded by a funnel-shaped force,
he said to himself, “My Lord,
is that Armageddon?”

“No,” said the postman
who had just put a large package
in the Evangelical Christian’s
mailbox, “it’s a tornado.”
The package
had been weighing
the postman down since
this morning,
and he was glad to be
relieved of it.

“Should we take cover?”
asked the Evangelical Christian.

“I suppose,” said the postman,
“but I still have
all this mail to deliver.”

“Well, you could rest here,”
the Evangelical Christian suggested,
“and wait for the storm to pass.”

The postman
looked up at the charcoal sky,
at the leaves and twigs blowing
in the unrelenting wind.
The birds and animals were taking cover,
and the postman decided
he had better take cover too.

“I could make some tea,”
the Evangelical Christian offered,
“and we could sit on the porch
and watch the storm.
If the storm should get too rough,
we can take cover in the basement
where there’s a fruit cellar.”

“Sounds like a plan,”
said the postman as he
removed the mailbag
from his aching shoulder
and set it beside
a pot of red geraniums.

The neighbourhood
looked like a ghost town—
not person, or car, or animal in sight.
The postman supposed
everyone was either at work or school.
And the ones who were inside
probably always stayed in
even in good weather.

The postman had an aunt
who was agoraphobic.
She lived alone and had no children.
She died the way most hope to—
painlessly, peacefully in her sleep.

Because she never left the house
and had no family,
no one knew
she was no longer alive.
It was the smell
of her rotting corpse that
alerted her neighbours
in the adjacent apartment
to her condition.

The postman felt guilty
for not visiting his aunt more often
or taking more of an interest
in her affairs.
But truth be told,
she had not taken any
particular interest in him.
You get what you give—
or is it—
you give what you get?
In either case,
the postman thought,
communication
is a two-way street.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011
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