My father wasn’t *that* kind of poet – you know – the kind that rhymes “love” with “above” or “reason” with “season.” He was the kind of poet who spent hours on end – days even – perfecting, studying the French sonnet. He was every bit the poet that Edgar Allan Poe was. Poe died drunk on the streets of Baltimore never knowing his own fame or prodigy.
My father had interesting interests. Once, he made a study of Eloise and Abelard. I loved it that my father could always tell me something I did not know – something I would have never known save for him.
Today, I had a stack of things to mail, so I swung by the post office on Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City. I have entered this post office at least 50 times in the last six years, but today, as I put my money in the machine and waited for it to spit out my stamps, a familiar smell triggered something in my brain. Rapid gunfire of memory proceeded to disrupt the next 15 minutes of my life.
My father loved to go to the post office. In fact, sometimes, he went more than once a day. Most of the time his box was empty, and on the way home we’d stop by the convenient store for a soda or cupcake.
Today, I understand that all those trips my dad made to the post office were little journeys of hope – the hope that something wonderful and unexpected would be inside his mailbox – like a letter from his or a childhood sweetheart, or a check for a million dollars. The post offices of my childhood were glorious places, not like that dump on Classen. And, I still remember all the zip codes of all the towns where I grew up. My dad always made a point of having me memorize them: 91745, 80916, 79745, 72949, 75644, 75060, 67333, 74003.