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.