There’s only two women working at the post office
and a line of us, ten people long.
One of them isn’t helping anyone;
she’s scribbling addresses on a thick stack of mailing forms.
She looks up at us as she massages her hand.
And I realize our spaced-out blank waiting faces
look perturbed and intimidating to her. She makes a big show
of how much her hand hurts. “Look,
it’s swelling up,” she shows her co-worker.
“Yeah, it’s tough getting old, isn’t it?” and she laughs.
“She always makes fun of me,” she explains to her current customer.
“Look at how many I have.” She holds up
the stack. “Yeah, that’s a lot.”
Up at the counter, the woman helping me go gets
my package. The other still rubs her hand,
trying to comfort her crisis. “I write a lot, too,” I offer,
“and when my hand cramps up, I pretend I’m doing calligraphy,
focus on making the letters
and it usually relaxes my hand.”
I don’t say any of this aloud—just sign
say thanks, and leave. In the parking lot, I carry on
the conversation: “Might help.
but don’t blame me if it doesn’t.”