Coming in From the Mailbox in Nebraska (from the “Bizarro Ted Kooser” series)

Coming in from the mailbox,
Ned closes the front door behind him,
stomps the snow off of his winter boots,
shouts “I got the mail” to his wife
Ann Marie in the kitchen, throws the mail
on table in the hallway along with
his gloves, unclasps the buckles
of his winter boots, and, after stomping
few more of times, sheds them and
leaves them upright against the door.

He moves to their modest living room
where he takes off his red knit hat,
then his blue barn jacket, then the ugly
blue and yellow flannel shirt Ann Marie’s
sister gave him for his 58th birthday,
followed by his blue socks, then his
second pair of socks – also blue – his grey
thermal top, his flannel lined jeans,
his long-johns, his red boxer shorts,
his second pair of boxer shorts, which
are white, his black t-shirt, his white t-shirt,
the his second red knit hat, then his toupee,
his dentures, his contact lenses, then his
hearing aid, his medical ID bracelet,
his watch, and finally his wedding ring.

Once stripped bare,
there is no Ned anymore –
there is only a white mailbox atop
a white wooden post
impossibly balanced in
the middle of their living room.

“Anything good in there?”
says Anne Marie coming
in from the kitchen
looking down at the newspaper
in one hand while sipping
a mixture of vodka and wolf’s blood
from a steaming mug of coffee in the other.

She looks up and is startled.
“Ned? What the hell is the mailbox
doing in the middle of the living room?”

She notices that its flag is up
and moves closer to inspect.

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