I met you camping years ago 
in your tent up-island
Saint John USVI. 
Visiting again I trekked the bush
in hope to find you somewhere.
With friend, drove rental car to Coral Bay 
asking after you 
at mail drop named Connections East. 
Convoluted tale involving push and pull 
between myself, this your other jealous 
friend Anita, and that sales clerk 
at the souvenir boutique.
All our distaff discord, petty conflict, 
fierce emotion, need not be put to paper. 
But here’s the piece involving you: 
I left a prepaid message 
instead of “pay-to-read-it” option. 
I figured when you’ve racked up more 
than $50 bucks of unread CODs, 
an easy greeting you’ll receive 
from admin assistant worker me. 
Playfully, I felt compelled to write 
my thoughts on one of those 
“While You Were Out” 
preprinted slips. 
I checked all boxes that relate to us:
“Came to see you” 
“Wants to see you” 
“Please call”
“Special attention” 
A goof I thought you might appreciate 
at this, your sweet home office on the range. 
Anita’s frugal button pushed, she raged that
$3 bucks needs to buy a bigger piece of paper.
Irrational, she wouldn’t let it go. 
Yet since she planned to write: 
“we were here and looked for you” 
“too bad, you missed us” 
I argued she could find a lot of space 
on back of tiny memo slip for writing only that. 
Which size paper message did prevail
you will discover when — or if — you ever 
wander in, collect your mail. 
All that psychodrama caught attention of 
the next door woman who was vending souvenirs.
She well remembered you, backcountry wildman
passing through occasionally. 
She offered to transmit our greeting free
face-to-face complete with hugs 
special delivery.
Catherine Lee founded/ran for 13 years Studio Red Top, a loft space where she produced concerts, jam sessions, and readings. In that adult playpen in 1978, Lee began exploring poetry as a percussive voice with jazz musicians. Today, Lee reads solo or sits in “on poem” with improvised music. Lee handmade several limited edition chapbooks available at Etsy (@JazzOvationInn), and blogs about jazz poetry on Facebook (Jazz Ovation Inn).

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