On Friday, even if it snows, I walk
my street, only seven houses this side
of the mountain to the locked gate
where the state reservation begins,
and where, in summer, we bring our grand-
daughter to the playground. Today is sun
after snow, all sparkle fluff. No trees
or wires down like last time. The road’s
well plowed and sanded, making the walk
leisurely, as intended, and I glance into
the windows of the neighbors. One should
not do this, but I do, then turn back
to kicking plow-clumped snow.
Besides, no one is home. No one stands
or sits on their side of the glass, staring
out at the world, expecting something strange
and beautiful, or terrible after storm.
Empty living rooms startle, like finding
torn feathers of a cardinal on snow;
there was song then silence. There were children
warming yesterday’s cold air with laughter.
Already their snowman tilts toward the sun.
Some driveways are cleared, some only have
tire tracks leaving. All that vacant space
cars fill after dark, I think, standing here
in the bright air, holding a red feather up
to divide the sun. How yellow the quill is surprises.
The fibers at its base are wispy, not frozen,
could still tickle a child’s cheek. I accept
a wild animal’s death. But I don’t understand
the neighbors who never raise a shade,
not even on the sun side that faces the street
I’m walking. It makes one wonder
what they hide. More than simple shyness
and shabby furniture. But the closer neighbors
disturb me more. They never lower a shade,
front, back, or side. They rise before sunup
and seldom is any room lit past the news hour,
as if the misfortunes of others shame them
to early sleep. I always stop in front
of the retired professor’s house. We haven’t
spoken all winter. I worry about her health,
if she is in the hospital again. Suddenly,
her front window flashes with a waving hand,
no body, no aged, smiling face; just a flash
of thin flesh that makes me think I should hurry
home and bury this acorn of acknowledgment
beneath the heart of the rhododendron
hibernating under my vacant picture window.
Gary Metras has had poems in America, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Poetry, and Poetry Salzburg Review. His most recent book is The Moon in the Pool (Presa Press 2015). He is the editor and letterpress printer of Adastra Press.