Once They Are Yellow

by Vance Walker

We leave the newspapers on the driveway
For a few days, four maybe, a week or longer, who cares? 
He reads it online anyway, and I only for some of the comics and the Ask Amy
Not the horoscope or news, horoscope too freakily on the nose 
And the news is old by the time it is printed
Once they are yellow, they move to the porch, out of the way, behind the bench
They are not quite ready to enter the house
Once in a while, I flip them over with a three-tined garden cultivator 
To check the date
See if they are ripe enough to read, to handle, to touch
They say they are folded and bagged by machine
But who knows if that’s true, or true everywhere
And the man has to handle it to throw it out the car window, you know

We leave the mail in the mailbox near the street
For a couple days, who knows, who cares?
Carefully check to see if there’s a check there or 
Something tempting to a mail-thief even though it’s a safe neighborhood
If so get it into the cardboard box inside the front door 
For safekeeping without actually touching it
Until it’s safe to open it
Maybe open something valuable or intriguing or needed or ordered
Not with gloves, necessarily, but wash hands afterward or afterwards
Careful not to let any paper touch the cut on finger
Check the cardboard box periodically so as not to be late with a credit card bill
Everything else is on autopay, almost everything, not stuff like DMV stuff
But credit card bills can be checked online anyway
Never any letters, no one writes letters anymore
Except Dad, he does.
Shurtleff did, he died.
The mailman has to touch so many things 
That so many others have recently touched
Is he scared?
We put a—wrapped—Easter egg chocolate in the mailbox for him with a note:
For the Mailman— Thank you!
I happen to be doing yard work when he drives up
Actually I see him nearby so I linger to see his reaction
I am way more than six feet away
He sees the note, reads it, takes the candy, sees me, gives me a little wave, a little smile, says, “Thanks.”

Vance Walker lives in quarantine with his husband and two children in Southern California. His writing has appeared in the Vita Brevis Press, a recent issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review, and the San Diego Update. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.

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