It arrived around 9:30 a.m.
while I was in the kitchen
waiting for my toast.

“Five hundred yards” seemed
to me an excessive distance
for a small town like Amherst,
particularly since the whole incident
with her tippet and whalebone stays
was just a silly misunderstanding
aggravated by differences
in time and respiration.

It also has unintended consequences.
For instance, as a practical matter,
it damages higher education
because it creates a buffer zone
between me and gifted poets
of Mount Holyoke
eager for literary insights.

It is also impossible
to be sure about one’s distance
while meandering around a town
looking for inspiration.
You can try to conceptualize it
as five football fields,
but I don’t think about distance
in terms of football fields
having never actually played the game
except for that one humiliating afternoon
on the Jersey shore
where I broke my nose.
If I drive to the Seven-Eleven,
is it four blocks or eight blocks
in that neighborhood,
and how can I really know?

To be sure, I am confident
my new lawyers will do better on appeal.