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Junk Mail

By Kate McCahill

At the end of a dusty road, I open a dusty mailbox and take out dusty mail.

The Santa Ana winds are relentless this year. I squint against the swept-up grit and scan the stack: a letter, a bill, and a packet of newsprint advertisements, today announcing a sale on mattresses, a Memorial Day blowout.

These advertisements remind me of my grandmother, Hen. Junk mail takes me to a bench in her old house, the corner seat of the breakfast nook. The kitchen walls were papered in a vine-like floral print, poppies and daisies, I think, or it may have been dandelions, the yellow all gone, gauzy skeletons billowed in a gentle breeze. And through Hen’s open kitchen window, the smells of the springtime yard swept: magnolia, cut grass, recent rain, pine chips, chlorine from a neighbor’s pool, and worms, out for the rain, now baking in the sun. Hen’s kitchen itself smelled alternately of basement and cookies, soap and boys, my cousins, my brothers, all sweating and ravenous after long days outside.

Meanwhile, from the pages of the /Albany Times Union/, Hen would pull newsprint booklets of coupons and promotions and toss them onto the bench, lacquered white, lacquered cornflower blue, I can’t remember which anymore.



About the Author

 Kate McCahill lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she is a member of the English faculty at the Santa Fe Community College. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Santa Fe Literary Review and holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book, Patagonian Road: A Year Alone in Latin America (SFWP), was published in 2017. McCahill’s essays and stories have appeared in Vox, The Millions, The Adirondack Review, and elsewhere. Learn more katemccahill.com.