by John Berry

It used to be the afterthought
at the end of a letter
that final smirk of wit, that wistful
traveler meandering late to the fair.

That was when the King
of Correspondence held a cursive scepter
when inbox stood at attention
from the top of a post
and saving meant shoebox
under the bed.

You probably have some of these
ancient relics; the corners
of a white envelope scooching
out of the pages of a dusty book

a box of august times; 13 cent stamps
postmarked Tulsa, grandmother’s
spidery script. You noticed it grew
ragged, torn as the years went by.

And somewhere, under a cousin’s bed,
or up in the grim heat of your brother’s
attic, a packet of your own – dry rot
of a rubber band, holding them together
more out of habit than choice.

And in there, the last letter you wrote,
probably about the time you decided
life means business, the shops never close.

And because you could never help yourself,
not so much from what was forgotten
but from the promise of
a final word

John Berry is a native Virginian living in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. A craftsman by trade, John has recently shifted 40 years of experience in the building arts to teaching through a new venture called Show Me How! His third chapbook, The Lawnmower Poems, was released by Foothills Publishing in 2019. A regular volunteer at The River House Arts and Music Community in Capon Bridge West Va., John is always finding new ways to express his love for service and the arts.