Not much is left of the homestead. The house burned and the flower beds and shrubbery are now pushed aside by a bulldozer or cut to the ground by a mower. The mailbox has been left alone to mourn beside the road, so long that a pair of birds has built a nest inside.
The eggs hatched long since in the tender early spring. The babies were fed on plentiful bugs and left their nest behind as soon as the were fledged, before the harsh heat of mid-July began to overheat their metal room, the birds were gone. Grass and weeds overgrow the box and nearly hide it.
Except for the nest, the mailbox is empty. It seems to be reaching toward the passing cars. Begging, with its door flung open for a word from the living world, a letter from home, even an overdue bill, or a faded sale paper. Nothing comes. No one checks the box each day to find a birthday card, a magazine, or a seed catalog.
The rural carrier doesn’t stop here any more to pickup a bundle of letters to go out, to leave an envelope of stamps or lay the metal flag back in its “no mail” position.
The property is for sale now. I stopped to walk around, to salute the family long gone, to pat the fencepost, and stand for a minute under a shade tree where a swing once entertained children on a hot summer afternoon like this one.
There is nothing sadder than a forsaken homesite, unless maybe it’s an abandoned mailbox.