Imagining My Neighbor

Now that night has fallen like a broken cart,
he cups his ear against the old red radio,  
attempting to tune out the stream
of unintelligible street verbiage  
leaking thru the window.  

Earlier, he opened all the blinds,
but left the front door closed.
Why do we seal off those places
flooding the greater light?

I imagine in the quiet cottage of his brain
the sepia of this desert city,
wind, dirt, grit that scuffs your skin.
Wish him gentleness in the shade of shadows.

We spoke once. “This heat. Too much,” he tells me.
His birth city is a place where the Pacific baptizes
each morning with softness, the smell of seaweed.
Each day predictable as a calendar.

Today he is a leopard lizard
stalking his oppressor for that which is too much.
I shut blinds. Retreat from voyeurism.  
I have no heat or words to offer him.
I am a wheel that does not move the cart.


Copyright © 2022 by Loretta Diane Walker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 08, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

I wrote this poem right after watching a friend of mine, who was scooting around to find a warm place. He used to live in Texas and now lives in Alaska. I thought about how we are all trying to find warmth, trying to find places in the world of comfort, and how some of these places are nearest to us and how they are also some of the most dangerous.”
Loretta Diane Walker