green stamp booklet

The Stamp House

As far back as I can remember, snippets of verse pop into my head. Sometimes I actually write them down (on whatever is handy – grocery receipts, envelopes, iPhone notepad). Sometimes I actually write a complete (“complete”) poem and do something with it. “The Stamp House” came to me on a Saturday morning, and I knew I had to “complete” this idea. Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, the ‘Mama” in this poem.
The Stamp House

The clicking spin of the black plastic wheel inside the green box
I watch from tiptoes
Each slot a number
Pale green stamps inch out

Each trip the same
Mama gathers the stamps
Collects the curved rolls

Saturdays (especially rainy)
She’d lick them in rows
In a gray paper booklet

Drapes for the kitchen and long hall
A hand mixer with three settings
(Think of the cakes!)
A record player, a clock, a wok

By the time I got a new bedspread
(blue-grey with tiny white flowers with
matching curtains, plus porcelain lamps with
wee white flowers etched against the blue…
grown-girl bedding at last all my own)
The Stamp Houses were closing

Shutting down one by one
Green stamps replaced by plastic bags
Rotary wheels removed
Along with manual cash registers
And five cent gum

I suppose I circled my choice in the catalog
And we bought my livid blue beauty
Drove to an unknown town with the last Stamp House
I loved those matching curtains (floor-length)
Blowing in the spring breeze
That bedspread with piping and ruffles skimming the carpet
The lamps’ white shades casting soft shadows on my blue made bed

Mama had leftover stamps
(she tried to spend them all)
A few rippled pages remain
Tucked away in a drawer
In a filing shelf of my memory

–Jessica Vance, May 2015

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