MAN ON A STICK

Across the street the shades of his English Tudor

kept us out, kept out the moving van and

two young marrieds with a baby.

Our white sneakers flashed at butterfly pace

as we unloaded a contemporary chair.

Each day something new arrived:

drapes, a refrigerator, the fireplace screen.

Nurserymen followed, tearing out

the brown and twisted fibers of old garden beds.

A fence company pulled down yards of chain link

and squared the lawn with pointed wrought iron.

Looking out bay windows we could see his nurse

lead him step by step down the brick walk

to a place under the canopy of oaks

where he stood with a rumpled hat,

leaning on a tall, carved cane,

looking up from below his shoulders

like a turtle in cool grass.

Above him, each leaf opened and closed in turn,

clattering against each other.

At first we waived at our new neighbor,

and shouted, “Hello, Mr. Miller,”

but he kept his silence and his back to us.

Ours was a budding life.

 
 
 
 
 
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