Ode to Neighbors (Written June 1, 2018)

Ode to Neighbors

She walks to the bottom of the street,
scans
the neighboring yards, front and back,
looks to see if there is not someone

She could call to, engage in small
talk,
and speak her mind. For too long
she’s been confined to the house,
with nothing much to do,

Other than watch television, read,
sleep,
and maybe, on occasion, make supper.
It’s hard to muster the energy
to get out of the house,

In her condition, but once she sets
foot
on the street, there’s a lightness to her step
that she seldom experiences
when she’s cooped up in the house.

The street, however, has gone through many
changes
in recent months, and several of the people
she was once close to are no longer
with us. Eric, next door, lost his house

When he stopped paying his bills, now it stands
empty,
largely neglected by the new, absentee
owner. Lucille, our neighbor to the south, toward
the river, has moved to an old people’s home,

Which was not unexpected, at her age. The property
now belongs
to her son, who rents to his son and daughter-in-law,
whom we hardly ever see. Roger and Roberta,
in the next house down, enjoy a lively conversation,

Whenever it happens, and if Elaine is lucky, she will
find them
at the door, though these days they spend
most of their time on the back deck,
in a screened-in area, free of mosquitoes.

Paul, across the street, always has a friendly
word,
in the midst of his worries about his wife,
who has fallen ill. Lucy, who used to live
next to Paul, one house up from the river,

Sold everything and moved into an apartment,
tired
from years of taking care of the property on her own,
though she’s still fit as a fiddle and able to handle
anything she sets her mind to. John and Maggie,

In the brick house across from us, are the best
neighbors
we could ask for, they keep an eye on us,
if we’re in trouble, they are ready to help
when we call on them and even when

We don’t. Though fewer than before,
the neighbors
that remain, the ones we know, make us
want to stay here, in our little big house.

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