“No Mail Today” by Russell Rowland

Russell Rowland


Just now I bowed to the miniature window
of my Post Office box, and this voyeur

saw an empty corridor with fluorescent
lighted space beyond. Fragmentarily

glimpsed arms and hands put wonderful
things into other boxes. I have come

up empty, ever since a fellow counselor
at a long-past camp left her note for me:

“Can we talk?” I had not wanted to talk,
just grope in her shirt like a blind puppy

after milk. She preferred a relationship:
girls always complicated everything.

Older, I bent into pretzels of contrition,
using even the Book of Common prayer.

Silence can tell you all you need to know.
That empty corridor goes to infinity,

like two mirrors facing. We can’t talk.
Wounds aren’t healed by the aggressor

who inflicted them, and the aggressor
is the last to be made healthy, if at all.

The Pope sends back to Tannhaüser
his staff in bloom; however, mail is slow.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004


Russell Rowland: “One of J.D. Salinger’s characters, Seymour Glass, wrote a poem about a little girl, a fellow passenger on a commercial flight, who turned the head of the doll she held so that it was looking at him. Like Seymour, I wish to write about those moments of connectedness in which our true humanity (and divinity) resides, even in barbarous times.”

Rattle Logo