1st day, paper route, January, grade 5

It all went well
till I got to the end
of Thompson Drive
which ran out of houses
at the edge of the prairie.

No 518. Thompson proper
began in the 400s.
In -30 I trudged
back and forth on Ness
wondering at the glitch:
a customer without
an actual house.

Some 15 minutes
until I noticed a black speck
a football field away
across the barren field.
Could that, irrationally,
be it? It was north
of 400s after all.

The Arctic wind blew
unforgiving from the North
raising snow to
sting and freeze my face
but I got there.
The iron numbers frostily
upon the house: 518.

And was welcomed
by a bent, suspendered man
with thick green glasses:
Mr. Steele, Francis.
Frank, his wiry wife
called him.
She was Dorothy–
Dot, in that last year before
the old guy’s death.

They insisted I come in
and sat me by the window
with a hot drink
looking back toward civilization.
They were grateful
I had come bringing
the news of the world.
The new carrier.

I sat and listened to them
quietly argue for 20 mins.
The old man was nice
and congenial.
She did what he told her
but I wouldn’t have
trusted her for a minute.

Another strange beginning
that winter of yore
being taken in abruptly
to that isolated life.
I wondered at how
they survived
and walking back, realized
why the previous carrier
had quit the route
after Christmas tips.

If you check Google view of 518 Thompson Dr., Wpg, you’ll see that a street goes right through where that little house on the prairie was in the late ’50s. That and a light pole and a red fire hydrant. All that’s left of 518, Steeles, and my paperboy youth.

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