Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

The Couple Next Door

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

The Couple Next Door

Article excerpt

tend their yard every weekend,

when they re-paint or straighten

the purple fencepickets canting

each other at the edge of their lot,

hammering them down into sand

to stand. How long will they stay

put? My neighbors mend their gate,

hinges rusted to blood-colored dust,

then weave gold party-lights; with

orange lobster-nets and blue buoys

along the planks. So much to see

and not see again, each chore undone

before they know it. I love how

faithfully they work their garden

all year, scumbling dried eelgrass

in fall, raking away mulch in spring.

Today the older one, Pat, plants

weeds ripped from a cranberry-bog.

Sassafras and pickerel, black locust

and meadowsweet, wild sarsaparilla,

checkerberry, starflower. Will they

take root here? Meanwhile Chris waters

seeds sown months ago. Furrows

of kale, snap-bean, scallion break

the surface, greedy for life. Musk-rose

and lilac cast their last shadows. Is it

seeing or sun that makes them flicker,

as if they'd vanished? They shake

like a letter in someone's hand. …

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