next door by Stephen House

in her worn dressing gown
she leans over our falling down fence
asks me if i’m doing ok
i tell of ongoing tests and painful biopsies
waiting on cancer results
it’s not looking good

her eyes mist over
concerned and with care
i glance at a graze on her hand and wrist
magpie lands near us
white cat looks up
we stand silently still in this moment of us

no mention of last night
helping her in from the street
falling down drunk
screaming at air
her times on the bottle get more each week
it’s her stuff to face
i know how it is

she asks if she can help me through this difficult time
i say its ok
we both feel it’s not
magpie warbles
white cat meows
i thank her and turn to go into my room

she takes beer and wine from her dented old car
i sit on the porch in my busted old chair
i wish i could cry
i’ve tried all week
but as low as i am i can’t find a tear

we’ve been next door neighbors for nearly three months
the last one the best
since i gave up the gear
i would have died if i didn’t quit
i wanted to live
i still so do

magpie flies into grey winter sky
white cat sits on the mat near my chair
she appears on the porch
bandaged hand holding flowers
i start to cry
she cries with me