While reading Michael Dirda’s book chat in The Washington Post, I came across his favorite opening lines for a blackmail note. One struck a chord with me and led to the following.
Photographs have been sent to your wife.
They were to arrive –
in a blue envelope –
A return address is absent from the package.
Instead, a neighbor child drew her family at their vacation home.
Please ignore the double suns and spacecraft
as I am certain the neighbors visited the Outer Banks last year
and not a distant world.
My intent was to leave the upper left blank.
Searching for an envelope large enough,
I was only able to find the blue one,
which apparently became a sketch pad
when the neighbors came over for dinner last week
and the child demanded release
from the grownup conversation of Burma, polar bears and commodities.
I was, however, able to achieve my goal of no traceable postmark.
It took some effort.
I drove to an inconvenient train station,
boarded the first train, changed twice
before taking a bus and walking a mild distance to the office
whose postmark you should have received on Wednesday.
The clerk laughed at the spacecraft
and asked whether the package was for the artist’s grandmother.
“No.” I offered no further explanation
and completed the transaction in silence.
Don’t expect that the letter you currently hold
was mailed from the same or a nearby post office.
I am not a foolish man.
All you need to know is that the second postmark
is not my home, my work or any place I have ever been
for longer than 14 minutes
As for the photographs,
you know what to do.