The line is long, processional, glacial,
and the attendant a giant stone, cobalt blue
with flecks of white, I'm not so much
looking at a rock but a slab of night.
The stone asks if anything inside the package
is perishable. When I say no the stone
laughs, muted thunderclap, meaning
everything decays, not just fruit
or cut flowers, but paper, ink, the CD
I burned with music, and my friend
waiting to hear the songs, some little joy
after chemo eroded the tumor. I know flesh
is temporary, and memory a tilting barn
the elements dismantle nail by nail.
I know the stone knows a millennia of rain
and wind will even grind away
his ragged face, and all of this slow erasing
is just a prelude to when the swelling
universe burns out, goes dark, holds
nothing but black holes, the bones of stars
and planets, a vast silence. The stone
is stone-faced. The stone asks how soon
I want the package delivered. As fast
as possible, I say, then start counting the days.
David Hernandez was the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011. A resident of Long Beach, California, he is the author of three collections of poetry and two young adult novels.
"At the Post Office" uses a humorous, relatable setting as a springboard for reflections on what in life is temporary and what is more permanent.