Mysterious Neighbors

By Connie Wanek

Featured Image: The Thundershower by H. Lyman Saÿen 1916

Country people rise early

as their distant lights testify.

They don’t hold water in common. Each house has a personal source, like a bank account,

a stone vault. Some share eggs, some share expertise,

and some won’t even wave.

A walk for the mail elevates the heart rate.

Last November I saw a woman down the road walk out to her mailbox dressed in blaze orange cap to

boot, a cautious soul.

Bullets can’t read her No Trespassing sign.

Strange to think they’re in the air like lead bees with a fatal sting.

Our neighbor across the road sits in his kitchen with his rifle handy and the window open.

You never know when. Once

he shot a trophy with his barrel resting on the sill. He’s in his seventies, born here, joined the Navy,

came back. Hard work never hurt a man

until suddenly he was another broken tool.

His silhouette against the dawn

droops as though drought-stricken, each step deliberate, down the driveway to his black mailbox,

prying it open. Checking a trap.


Connie Wanek’s new collection of poems, On Speaking Terms, will be released in January 2010 from Copper Canyon Press. Her two previous books are Bonfire and Hartley Field. A 2006 Witter Bynner Fellow of the Library of Congress, Wanek lives in Duluth, Minnesota. Her website can be reached at www.conniewanek.com.

Originally published in NOR Spring 2010.

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