Molly, if you read this poem,
I have your three snapshots.
What a lot of white-shirted redheads
in plaid skirts, red and black,
rioting in the school auditorium,
each in her seat. Are you
the only poised one, straight-
gazing us out of that horde?
Or at the Diet Coke machine
in beaded braids
and dream-catcher earrings
clinched by a girl friend
grinning too hard?
Sure, it’s none of my business.
But your personal stuff was ditched
into the neighborhood book swap box.
Did your friends spill out of
the expectant parents manual?
The sci-fi novelettes set?
One of the two Funk & Wagnalls?
(And say, who wants to read
old encyclopedia chunks?)
Molly, you precisely wrote
for these to be please returned.
I’ll hang onto them in case you find me.
And if you run into Lois, tell her
I also found her “Happy 21” birthday card
from Edith and Allen, cast away
with your chums. It has a lady mouse
in a polka-dot dress and apron
hefting a lovely bunch of wildflowers.
Image: “Three years of correspondence” by Lenore Edman, licensed under CC 2.0.
My neighborhood features an actively used “take a book, leave a book” box. Aside from books, magazines, CDs and so on, I’ve found other types of items there. On the same day a couple of years ago, I found both a set of schoolgirl photographs and a stray birthday card, all loose in the box. The poem’s title was written on the back of each photograph. There was no apparent way to return Molly’s photographs, despite her firm request. My premise was to nevertheless take this request seriously. Perhaps if I got a poem out into the public sphere (and I have read it at open mics), it might reach her. The premise also assumes that, because the photographs and birthday card appeared on the same day, Molly and Lois could be acquainted. Still, the poem is puzzled as to just how these ephemera arrived. They probably spilled out of a book, but which one? There were several possibilities, each of which implies its own backstory. And seriously, I still have the photographs, and would return them if Molly gets in touch. I’d return Lois’s card too. It’s a standing invitation.