The Sight of my Neighbor Limping

Photograph by Jose Padua
The sight of my neighbor limping to his front door
in the dim, late-evening light, walking from his truck,
down the driveway to the sidewalk, then toward the
front steps of his house, his bad arm nearly dragging
from his shoulder behind his back like some name
he can’t remember–an old friend from back in the day
when he lived closer to the city with plenty to do and
places to go–reminds me of how little I know of his story.
Just that his wife has a hard time staying sober long enough
so the cops don’t have to drag her away to jail. Just an idea
that when the liquor has left the blood that flows beneath
your skin, the cold, gray walls of a jail cell must look
like the hardest substance on Earth. Which is to say
that it’s so much easier for me to imagine being her
than being him, so much easier to think about things
done wrong than things lost. And he takes his good arm
and stretches it straight in front of him as he turns to pull
his front door shut in time to sit in front of the television
to watch the Sunday night game. His wife is coming home
again at the end of the month when we’ll be more than
halfway through this third quarter season’s rush toward
winter, which is when he’ll need to crank up the wood
stove, sending rough blue smoke from the chimney
toward the sky in an effort to reach a temperature
sufficient for him to feel the tips of all his fingers, make
the motions that make it easy to believe it’s easy being alive,
and that comfort is the warmth and stillness of sitting
near the heart of his hundred year old, small town house.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua. This poem was first published at Vox Populi.

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