We leave our houses together —
I with my lunch kit, you your ragged fur,
and startle each other across the lawn — steal a glance,
then you clear the white hill,
all that’s left of the winter
castle holding you in its box,
look straight ahead, freeze into the ice.
Not even patience, just the glue of instinct
keeps you there,
taking the guise of a rabbit
on your own piece of cardboard snow.
I’ve seen you before —
when my husband said you’d
moved in next door I didn’t believe it —
the house is empty, boarded up,
but there you were, nothing more
than an old woman heating up your supper
in a rusted hibachi on the lawn.
I almost stepped over you
racing to my car.
I’d been crying but you never noticed,
just kept right on eating.
It’s a fine line, I was thinking,
between existing and being held in existence
by another’s eyes.
You never looked up or wavered
from the precise task of chewing.
Perhaps you remembered the ancient punishment
for all idle persons, tinkers,
discharged prisoners, gypsies —
trespassers on private property.
What’s with the white coat?
You think that if you hold that pose
long enough you will disappear?
You don’t recognize the obvious do you?
I can see your scraggly brown neck,
those absurd teeth, the way you hide
in the seams of your cloak
like a private diary.