Her house was another world:

in the middle of our town

on the way to the library—

the low porch, the ramshackle brick-sided

abode, reeking smoked food from its chimney.

They lived on the porch I thought—

ate in the weedy brown yard,

hung up white sheets to dry on the line

from tree to tree. We

hid our wash out back,

sat sometimes on our rockers

watching the street, but never

showed our lives to the neighbors

never let them know our smells,

our heat, our hunger.


The world

was changing—

the year I knew that

the windshields of all new cars

became one wide glass, so the driver

would not miss whatever hid

behind the steel rod at midpoint.

It meant for me that nothing

would ever be the same

no matter how much greater my vision.


I don’t recall fearing the move.

The home in which I grew

was suddenly inappropriate—

—the changing neighborhood, outgrown

friends. Proof: When did I return

to that tiny green house, the front porch

with its heavy dark door, the garden

I myself cultivated? Once, perhaps,

I went by, looked askance at the old garage,

open to the street, saw

the window of my room

covered with wisteria,

gloomily vacant.


She sits on the verandah

strapped in her chair,

humming to herself, sometimes

recognizing an event that goes on

in the world outside. A car pulls up,

some children get out, race

to the revolving doors

and disappear into

the dispassionate building.

“I knew you!” I say, having passed her by

and returned. You were my neighbor

on Holtzer Street, the house with red-brick siding!

We lived on the corner, with the rose garden.

I had a black-and-white cat. I was a child.

I used to use the knocker at your front door

when I could barely reach it. Remember me!”

There is

a glimmer like a lantern passing

by a window in the house across the street

—the one that has been vacant for years—

haunted, they say.