By Dan Veach
Return to Cinder

Nature is a Heraclitean Fire
  —Gerard Manley Hopkins

Mail strike, and the Italian Post
is buried like Pompeii.
On the evening news, dispirited
Post officers kick listlessly
through the mountains and foothills
of the undelivered. 
Will it be cheaper, they wonder
to shred it or burn it?

All those delicate air mail envelopes
blue as Italian sky, their crinkly onion skin
desiccated and ethereal, last stop
between matter and spirit.

Failed reachings-out of business and delight—
trapeze artists inches short
of an outstretched hand.

And Love, of course: its labors
lost for good. Struck since with sober
second thoughts, the cowardice
of common sense. Vesuvius slowly
losing steam. The heart a volcanic rock.

The Dead Letter Office 
takes things philosophically.
They shrug. The situation is not dire. 
In their postal manual, Heraclitus says 
that all creation bears the same return address.
Now or in a thousand years, who cares?
Send it back to the Fire.  

-from Southern Poetry Review, Vol. 47, No. 1