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Contents Page: October, 2010, vol 6 no 3

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Noragh Jones

The New Mailbox

Dented and mapped by rust, the tin trunk lay among earthenware crocks and iron soup pots, when we spotted it at a country sale. 'That's it', we sang out in unison, 'that'll do for our new mail-box.'

Foxed luggage labels
the broken alphabet
of a lost empire

'BLACK' was stenciled in ghost letters on the domed lid. Who was Black? Missionary or Resident, Indian Army man or up country trader to some heart of darkness? We sifted through the odds and ends inside, hoping for clues to the mystery of Black. There were a few pages torn from an Allspice Company's annual report, but their sense was filigreed by time and termites; an amateur watercolour titled in copperplate 'Volcanic eruption in the Banda Islands'. At the bottom were a handful of orphaned screws and bolts, and some miniature drawstring bags that trickled old dust.

Locks without keys
a life without trace
an afterscent of nutmeg

Back home I scrape Black's trunk free of rust and give it a new gloss with two layers of Hammerite. We install it at our farm gate for future mail. But next day:

Monsoon rain
drowning our mail
Black is back

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