Mailing Gifts by Carl Dennis

I liked this poem because it tells the story of conscious dualism better than the post I wrote about the topic.  I hope you enjoy it too.  Carl Dennis is an amazing poet.

Mailing Gifts, December 21

by Carl Dennis


I wouldn’t be fretting about the extra minutes

The slow clerk at window three is making me wait

If I were more in harmony with the Christmas spirit

Prepared to feel for an hour the flow of fellowship

That a saint is prepared to feel all year.


After all, now that I’m close enough to listen in

Its clear he isn’t staging a private slowdown

To vex the management, as I thought at first

Or to punish his customers for waiting

Till Christmas week to send their gifts off


No.  The problem appears to be his courtesy,

His refusal to rush his explanations

To stint even one of the options for shipping


If I were a saint, I would think of myself

As fortunate to be standing, just where I am

With a good view of the attention he’s paying

To the gray-haired wife and husband

Now informing him that the big box

They’ve heaved to the counter contains a tricycle

For their sensitive grandson Herbert,

A sweet-tempered five-year-old, but sickly

Who could use more exercise in the sun


To watch the clerk behaving as if these two

Were his only customers of the day

Would suggest to me, if I were a saint,

That he’s one of the wise men,

Confident that the dispensation of time

Has been set aside for one more generous

But to me, as I am, he seems oblivious

Unaware he’s an accomplice in a robbery

That leaves me without the leisure I’ve promised others


A clerk without common sense now increasing my loss

By accepting the photograph of the boy

That the couple hands him and holding it up

To the light to study it.  But if I were a saint

I’d feel blessed to witness his sober appreciation

And I might decide to embrace his example

Loyal for life to a modest master

Who’d never suppose he had a disciple

Never presume he taught me anything

Also published on Medium.

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