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The John Robert Doyle, Jr. Prize

Michael Hugh Lythgoe

 

On Birds & Angels at the Post Office

                                                             after Mary Oliver


Angel with a lute, full-bosomed diva, Hanukkah Menorah,

Islamic calligraphy, town marshall, movie star,

Madonna with Child, a poet from Puerto Rico.

I buy the Grand Teton National Park stamp

to mail a card to Wales.

Someone is looking for a Christmas stamp.

Someone else says, They should be finding ways to save.

Stop printing all these stamps. Print only one.

I buy a sheet of Hawaiian rain forest stamps—

mosaic finch, fern, oma'o thrush, jewel orchid, 'ilihia­—

so I can peel off part of a vision and paste it

on an envelope addressed by hand.

lt is Payday. A day day-laborers go

to check-cashing windows. With plaited hair,

she lives her life's economies in cash only.

She is surrounded by noisy sadness.

She is sending funds to a loved one,

in an envelope with an angel stamp.

l leave with my birds,

before  they are  cancelled, like angels.