30 Belknap Mt. Road
by Kelley White

In my town
the mailman leaves pots of herbs from his greenhouse
in the battered mailbox.
He props up the little broken flag.
He knows if you’re home
or gone away to school or looking
for work. (Then he gives the letters
to your mother or your friend.)
Schoolchildren walk
at 7:40 and 3:10 past my house.
They stop at the little store
(closed only once in one hundred and eighty
years) for tootsie rolls and popsicles. Boys
do tricks on bicycles.
People bring pies door to door.
We go to the ice cream social
at the library.
We bring our books
back on time. If we forget
the librarian renews them anyway.
She knows my children’s hobbies
and recognizes their best friend’s mother’s
car. The police car
stops children and gives them tickets
good for an ice cream cone at the dairy bar
when they wear their bicycle helmets.
The man at the store wraps up an extra
donut. You can take it to the bench
behind the children’s room
at the library and listen to
the brook. People wave
at you when you walk home.
It my town everybody
knows my parents
and asks after
my family’s health.
I know their children
and remember their birthdays
and anniversaries
and how they take
their coffee. Only problem is
I don’t live there anymore.

Previously published in Dakota House Poetry Journal and part of AFTER FROST, soon to be published by cyberwit.

Photo of Gilford Village Store (established, 1840) by the author. 

30 Belknap Mountain Road almost goodbye

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I thought of essential workers I immediately remembered my wonderful New Hampshire mailman (and thought of some pretty wonderful postal workers where I currently live in Philadelphia who keep a watch on our neighborhood and recognize when someone needs support and helps them find the help they need). When I pulled the piece up from the archives I realized it also touches on other essential workers—the keeper of the little village store, the friendly police officers, and, yes, not to be forgotten, the librarians! Sadly, I don’t live there anymore, perhaps none of us lives in that world anymore, but Gilford Village, New Hampshire, will always be my home.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: 30 Belknap Mountain Road (as I was saying goodbye).

11-16 Evelyn with Kelley in gray

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

PHOTO: The author with granddaughter Evelyn.