Birthday Cards Then and Now - Claire Scott

It used to be you would hop into your Chevy or Ford
the one with a dent in the fender from hitting the fence
one night when it was late and full of wine

It used to be you would drive to the village
and park right next to Annie’s Hallmark
where you might spend the next hour picking out
the perfect card
one that wasn’t steeped in sappy rhyme

Then you paid Miss Swenson a dollar fifty
asked how her elderly mother was doing, hoped her daughter
enjoyed playing the snare drum in the high school band
and went home and sat at your old wooden desk
staring out the window at the burst of cherry blossoms
while finding the perfect words to say you cared
and hoped this year would be filled with joy

It used to be you slid the card into its pale blue envelope
and put a stamp of a cardinal or a wood lily
in the upper right hand corner
looked up the address in your rolodex to be sure
and printed it in your best writing

It used to be you carried the letter to the mailbox
just outside the gate, knowing Jenny would be by
in a few minutes, unless she had to pick up
Daniel from school, and the card would be on its way
to Wynnewood or Salem or Westmont
where it would arrive safely in four or five days
and your friend would smile when she saw the handwriting

Now you subscribe to Paperless Post or Smilebox
only a few dollars a month and over two hundred ecards
at your fingertips, click a card, any card, and suggested messages
pop up so you don’t have to struggle for words
                        Wishing you sunshine and smiles
                        Hope your day is perfect, just like you
much easier in this era where all we speak is emoji
then simply type in the email address and hit send
two minutes tops

Instantly beamed across the country
you can even ask the company to auto send cards
each year, so you don’t have to remember
hours saved so you can sit on your lumpy couch
in your silent living room

Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize (2013 and 2014).  She was a semi-finalist for both the 2014 Pangaea Prize and the 2014 Atlantis Award. Her first book of poetry, Waiting to be Called, was recently published by IF SF Publishing.  Claire is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Berkeley, CA.  She lives with her husband in Oakland, CA and has two children, two children by marriage and five grandchildren.  All of which keep her wonderfully busy!