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.