On a Late June Evening
in My Driveway

I do not want the three women to disappear
into their houses,
I do not want it to end, our talk
of knees and neighbors,
of the woman who lives in the bungalow
on the corner, with an elderly mother—
we never see them out.
We see her head sometimes,
flying up over the fence
when she jumps
on the backyard trampoline;
on the way down
her hair flies straight up,
and occasionally
also we see her hand,
when, at the apex, briefly,
she waves (as we know, this
can look like drowning).
We talk of the neighbor asking
$895,900—too much, way too much—
for her cottage, and the new family
whose baby died after, they say,
two days. In grief, talk must pause
and does pause. Some silence is prayer
and abyss, a temporary invisible outline
around our collective narrow escape.
Talk of the unemployed husbands on our street
now taking up dangerous sports,
flinging their bodies into various
seas and skies and other empty beyonds,
and the small boy next door
who wears goggles and pajamas,
scowling from his scooter.
We turn together to the mansion
across from my house, years
under construction, still half built,
its lowest floor
higher than my roofline,
a great new climb, blocking the
sky, and the rare, endangered
ancient pine there, where an osprey
family every evening screams and
is screaming now, creating a ceiling
of sound as in concert we look up
into the needles just turned
to brass in the sun’s late light—
they almost chime.
Maybe our talk twines the houses
and their humans and all the losses
to the pine and to this,
this light, our words a kind
of net over the neighborhood
to hold what’s coming next.
I don’t know.
There’s so much unspoken,
almost everything, really.
In the driveway tonight
we speak only of what nothing
can be done about: midlife,
careless children and the cars
they do not see, everyone bowing
to cell phones, the man whose chest
and back are completely covered with thick
white fur who never, ever wears a shirt
(but why would he? he’s covered),
as we brush the sleeves of mosquitos
from our bare arms, as we talk
of the strangeness of the heavy
swarms this year, this, the first
rainy season with no rain,
and the mosquitos buzz our ears,
bite even the bottoms of our feet
as we talk, in sandals and summer
dresses, into indigo, into darkness.

Take some cherry tomatoes, I say
when the moon rises over the pine,
the ospreys long silent now, and
to my surprise, the women
quickly pick my potted plant clean.
I watch them walk down
the street, under the hanging
silver mosses, hands cupped,
overflowing with the still
sun-warm fruit, and I hear
them softly, fading now,
still talking.

Read on . . .

Bleecker Street, Summer,” a poem by Derek Walcott