How the Neighbors Disturb Me
Morning comes, in a patched white robe:
the smell of coffee and bacon and newsprint;
wet earth exhaling its last deep breath
before the snow comes.
Windchimes from next door.
A girl named Sweetwater sits on her porch
snug in her parka, smoking a cigarette,
watching the squirrels leap
from wire to branch. The last maple leaves
shiver. I clench my interdigitated hands,
sore knuckles taking painful comfort each from each;
force myself not to look at her.
She's native, and I have a notion
she doesn't like to be looked at casually.
She warms slowly, like a carefully tended fire
you nurse in the woods. It might not catch.
I've seen her fully alight only once
on the night Obama was elected,
her black eyes passionate. "I can't believe it,"
she said. "I can't believe it."
She looked directly at me then, and I thought
what fools we are to squander that first
direct look on ranging shots, instead of on
a deliberate smashing broadside.
I come home at night, lugging my folded table
and my duffel full of linens and oils,
climb sideways up the stairs; I see her
and her boyfriend smoking on the steps.
Sometimes during the day he plays the piano
masterfully. "Do I disturb you?" he asked once,
anxiously. (Everything beautiful disturbs me.)
"Of course not," I said.