I’ve just finished reading Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason. Depressing but the excellent scholarship makes it riveting, especially to those of us who mourn the passing of things we treasured growing up in the thirties and forties; general knowledge about what (and where) things were actually going on in the world, appreciation for arts which survived time’s test, public civility and conversation. In the book she spends a great deal of time discussing the difference between text and writing.

A disquisition about personal letters took me back to all my summers at the lake. I could sit on the porch and read, waiting for the hoot of the Milwaukee Road train as it pulled into the tiny, yellow station. That meant that if I waited fifteen minutes, I could take the car to the Post Office on Highway 51, open box number 5, and if I was very lucky, have a letter from my boy friend.

The train is gone, its roadbed a bike trail. The Post Office is next to the cheese shop. The box, still number 5, holds circulars, solicitations for money and notices of bills paid automatically from my account. Words from friends hover somewhere between a miniscule microchip and ether. Look for future poem on subject.

©2009, Janet Taliaferro