usps face mask

My Postal Lady
by Michelle Kogan

My postal lady stands at attention–
Warden style, pensive and alert–
Garbed in one of her multiple-well-fitted masks,
behind interweaving layers of
which guard her, and are
only interrupted at intervals
for human hands to pass packages
into her quasi-protected lair.
Although from our social-distant spot
she may appear unapproachable—
Don’t be fooled,
if you wait your turn
you may be surprised . . .
Watch her as she dutifully
intercepts and directs all
our precious pieces of mail.

She will, JUMP—
Though will never draw blood.
She did with me,
after handing me my
International mail form,
for my poetry package
off to another poet friend
in Australia.
Gruffly she said,
mail from our country sits for weeks
after arriving in another country . . .
I asked, “Can I come to the front
after filling out my form?”
—“NO—Get back in line,”
I did, and filled out my form,
while waiting with others,
six feet between us,
with more waiting,
and more waiting

it was my turn,
I moved forward—
She prompted me with mail questions,
continuing with full cognition,
I stumbled with my credit card,
apologizing with, I’m rarely out
and out of practice.
“I’m teaching online,” I said,
“and the post office is
one of the few places I frequent.”
“You’re teaching online,” she asked.
“How’s that going?”
Her daughter came into our conversation,
A missed cruise they were supposed to take—
“How is she,” I asked.
“Fine, covered from head to toe in protective gear,
like an amazon warrior ready for battle.”
We laughed together,
She lingered in conversation—
Always attentive to her task—
“How are you,” I asked.
She chuckled and
shared her daily ritual
after returning from work.
Voiding all worn—
Selecting a new mask for tomorrow—
She’s received many masks from postal patrons,
and feels it’s only right to wear them.
Finally, she unwinds
with watching something.
Briefly we shared our universe . . .
We parted with thanks, and smiles.

Till next time—
My postal lady—
Dear postal lady
Be safe.

Till next time

A Chicago artist always writing poetry!

PHOTO: Post Office face mask by MadeBeyoutiful, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I draw, paint, and write stories and an unending output of poems. This flow began about 10 years ago with haikus—I’d write while on walks—and has grown over the years in amount, forms, and desire. I also started following a handful of poetry blogs, reading more poetry, and attending poetry workshops at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. I love the challenge and focus of poem prompts—to me they’re a puzzle waiting to be solved. A prompt is an invitation to write on something I may not have written on; it may bring ah-ha moments and spur on other ideas. I’ve always loved words. When I was very young I would underline and write down words I didn’t know so I could look them up. The magic came in the dictionary—there were rivers and rivers of words, and I went down many rabbit holes when looking for just a few definitions. And then there were pictures too, and I planned on studying art. I have these two equally powerful passions, writing and art—I have to do both, it’s like breathing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Kogan, a poet, writer, artist, and instructor, balances her writing and art with nature, critters, and calls from humanity, emerging from her Chicago roots and beyond. Her poems are in a handful of poetry anthologies, including The Best of Today’s Little Ditty Volume I, II, and III, and Imperfect: poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers. Her artwork is in the collection of The University of Illinois Chicago, Biological Sciences Department; the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, Illinois; private collections, the book Chicago Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness; and many catalogues. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Find out more at her website:; her blog:, and her Etsy Shop: