The Old Neighbor

The Old Neighbor

Melissa Chen & Catherine Li

He doesn’t mind kids in his front yard,

running through his dandelions and overgrown grass

to fetch runaway basketballs and puppies


In the middle of the day or the late evening

his house throbs with the sound of big band jazz

And sometimes rock.


A red cap on white hair

Is he a baseball fan?

Never saw his cap close enough to see what team he’s rooting for


Steely pair of glasses

A stern, severe gaze

A never-smiling mouth


A heavy black jacket 

to match his heavy black trousers

and his heavy black boots


A milk jug swings from his hand

Every week, treading the same path

From the grocery store to his creaky front door


Sometimes he’ll roll up his sleeves and mow the strip of lawn

or trim that tree near the sidewalk

that belongs to no one in particular 


Wonder if he’s a veteran

if he moved to the growing west coast with nothing but some little wages

a midwestern accent and hospitality


Invited him to a Christmas concert last week

Said, “We noticed you liked to listen it to music”

He said, “I’ll turn it down”