Postage Stamp Woman
by Francine DuBois
“Filly, tell it like it is,” the drunk man slurs into the
Stamp collector’s ear, reeking of Old Milwaukee.
“Get it? Philatelic? Boy, I’d sure like to lick you
And mount you in my album. Ha!”
She remembers now why she rarely goes out,
Particularly not to the clubs, especially not ones
Located in the lobbies of Howard Johnsons.
She should have headed into the diner she saw
Down the street that looked just like the 1998
Pre-sort first class stamp (twenty-five cents).
Cleveland always makes her feel gloomy; the
Babbling of the intoxicated fool beside her
Doesn’t help. She is counting the minutes
Until she can go back upstairs and look at
Her friends, the stamps, the memories.
Late at night, sometimes she likes to finger
The perforated edges of the U.S. postage set of the 1980s,
That Pearl S. Buck and John Steinbeck series,
The familiar illustrations of Conestoga wagon.
She adores the unknown of stamps, wonders what
Destinations they may have traveled to, what news
They brought, what sort of person chose the
Bat series over the kittens and puppies.
She longs for a different time – a time when some hero
Would walk in and say, “Is this man bothering you, miss?”
And instantly sweep her off her feet. She aches for the days
When messages took a while to get, when anticipation ruled,
When people still wrote with ink and needed stamps.
Francine's Version -- Hezekiah's
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