Goddfrey Hammit

Pulp to Pulp

The daily newspaper, it was announced
by way of a story buried on B3–
appropriately, the page just before the obituary pages–
would no longer be delivered beginning in the new year,

meaning no longer would the days begin with those heralds
driving through the dark before the dawn,
some with a sure aim,
their pitch landing a step or two from the porch,

and others with the haphazard hope that that baton,
spinning end-over-end,
thrown from the shoulder like a rock skipped across a lake
by someone who had never skipped a rock across a lake,

might, at least, come to rest
somewhere between one fencepost and the next.
And, for the sleeping, no longer would the news
be crouched beneath a car in the driveway,

or hidden in the lawn that should have been mown last week,
or buried beneath the gathering snow that had silently built up overnight,
the paper waiting as patient as a cat
and lapping up the wetness of morning,

which would be the first consternation for those barely out of bed and,
already, presented with such a simple disappointment.
In those final months, the letters to the editor page,
alongside the usual lectures penned from atop imagined soapboxes,

was filled with those concerned at the loss of a ritual:
how would coffee taste when not paired
with that smell of fresh pulp and cheap ink?
And here, I thought of my grandmother,

who had developed the habit
of opening the obituary section as if this, too,
was news that ought to concern us all,
these worlds that had ended some time in the last week and now

huddled together between local news and the weather.
Last year, she had appeared in those pages,
in an obituary we had found already written,
fit to print years ago,

composed when she had been in fine health,
and I imagined her at her kitchen table,
those faces of dead strangers stacked in their
four-down, four-wide paper mausoleum in front of her

as she looked for familiar faces
and then as she searched for inspiration,
finding the words,
one ordinary afternoon in the past,

to best capture her life that,
one ordinary afternoon in the future,
would be taken out with the evening trash
by a complete stranger who, on a rainy morning,

would bend down in that shaky way,
and handle the sopping pages like lily petals,
turning in that shaky way to B4
to read the news of the day.

Editor’s Note: The standard morning newspaper delivery and reading rituals described in vivid images stand for life’s expectations and disappointments and the inevitable end. I loved the way the poet portrays the poignancy of the experience and nonchalant continuity of the life-cycle

Goddfrey Hammit was born and raised in Utah, and lives in Utah still, in a small town just outside of Salt Lake City. Hammit is the author of the novel Nimrod, UT.

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