“Postcard Number 64” by Mary Stone Dockery
Mary Stone Dockery is the author of Mythology of Touch, a poetry collection. She is also the author of two chapbooks, Blink Finch and Aching Buttons, both forthcoming, as well as a collaborative chapbook, Honey and Bandages, co-written with Katie Longofono. Her poetry and prose has appeared or is forthcoming in many fine journals, including South Dakota Review, Mid American Review, Arts & Letters, Gargoyle, and others. She currently lives, writes, and teaches in St. Joseph, MO.
This poem is packed light for travel. That’s not to say it’s lightweight, more that it has jettisoned anything that might impede its leaps. And those leaps come as progressively more startling images. It starts in familiar enough territory, with the small surprises of a new landscape. But then it takes a breath (“Didn’t I tell you I’d write?”) and jumps, from the place itself to how the speaker is assimilating into it, how her “feet spend/ over new sidewalks,/ purposeful.” From there the speaker leaps from one peak of wonder to the next and it’s hard to know if the images signify inward or outward experience. Maybe it’s both. Maybe it’s not important to know. Maybe what’s important is how a solid, external thing like a pebble, because of its color and shape, can take on the qualities of a private, inner thing like a lung, and how that transfer works in the other direction as well. What’s outside softens and comes in; what’s inside hardens as it’s exposed. Are we in the speaker’s head, or are we in a physical landscape? Is there a difference?
This is a postcard, a hastily scribbled note from a faraway friend. The slant of Aji Hand accentuates that haste, as do the tilt of the poem’s body and the block capitals of the title, squeezed into the remaining space, almost as an afterthought. All of it underscores the fresh energy of the speaker’s discoveries.