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About this Poem 

"My mother died on November 28, 2010. Months later my sister sent me things my mother had saved over the years. Old letters and postcards sent from various places I visited. I think my mother enjoyed collecting stamps. I like this poem because there is reference to Judy, a young Chinese girl I was in love with back in the early Sixties. Judy's race or color is not mentioned in the poem. It was a small secret. Everything seems small when one looks back at the past. Is an entire life no larger than a postcard or stamp?"
—E. Ethelbert Miller

Postcards

E. Ethelbert Miller

When was the last time you mailed a postcard?

My mother kept the ones I sent her. My sister mailed them back

to me after my mother died. I had forgotten I had written

so many small notes to my mother. The price of stamps

kept changing. I was always mentioning on the back of cards

I was having a good time. I can remember the first time

I lied to my mother. It was something small maybe the size

of a postcard. I went somewhere I was not supposed to go.

I told my mother I was at the library but I was with Judy

that afternoon. Her small hand inside my hand. 

I was beginning to feel something I knew I would never write

home about.

Copyright © 2014 by E. Ethelbert Miller. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 24, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

E. Ethelbert Miller

E. Ethelbert Miller was born in New York City, New York, in

by this poet

poem

       (for Me-K)

It was the language that left us first.
The Great Migration of words. When people
spoke they punched each other in the mouth.
There was no vocabulary for love. Women
became masculine and could no longer give
birth to warmth or a simple caress with their
lips. Tongues were overweight from
poem
I'm in the school bathroom
washing my hands without
soap but I'm still washing my hands.

I turn the water off
and look for a paper towel
but paper towels have been gone
since the first day of school
and it's June now.

I start to leave the bathroom
with my wet hands but then
the big boys come in talking
loud
poem
Everything
Each eye exists embracing exceptional emerald evenings
Evolution explains Eden's evil
Earth's ecology equates exploitation evaporation
Errors ending evergreen elms
Escort elephants eagles elks eastward
Enlightenment echoes Ezra Ezekiel
Enlist Esther Eugene Ethan Edward Ellington
Enough English