by Marjorie Maddox

This year, she remembers
everyone—daughter, daughter-in-law,
son-in-law, grandchildren—but early,
March Hallmarks arriving before
September’s almost-autumn,
age a wish we’d rather wait on
but still welcome with open mail slots
when her stamped blessings
arrive cross-country,
annotated and pre-season.

Again, she has forgotten
herself: her ninetieth
one day before my real,
new-decade celebration
still six months in the future.
I keep her card, but save
for our October ritual
of burning leaves,
the useless calendar.

In the changing air,
from now until spring,
or too-early, unseasonable death,
I’ll toast her daily, postmark
card after card after card
after card with no space
whatsoever for any
return address.

Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); children’s books; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 550+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies.