Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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A man in clothes the shape of sleep
pushes his battered bicycle,
wire baskets front and back,
halfway up the drive and stops.
He watches me raking gravel.
“You live here now?” I pause,
lean on my rake. “I’m trying.”
We gossip like old neighbors.
His family logged pine and maple.
A few cows, chickens. Some summers
a bear got all the corn. I tell him
a bear got ours last summer.
The house and barn were “down there,
where you have your woodpile now.
The house was small and cold as hell.
The barn was built better.”
We go down to visit lilac,
sprawling roses, honeysuckle,
clumps of double daffodils.
No sign of the house foundation.
Five generations in this place,
and I, three years.
Twice since then I’ve seen him,
picking up empties. Once
just his bike, leaning against a tree.