She lived in the house
on the other side of the young cedars
at the bottom of our yards.
I waited for them to grow and give me my privacy—
I calculated the time it would take
until she could no longer see me.
If I’m honest, I didn’t like her much;
she was a bit too high and mighty
Once, I spent an evening
in her company, and by the time
I got home, knew in my mind,
I’d never do it again.
Conversations always filled me with anxiety
and a longing to slip away.
(It may have been my own insecurity.)
I did watch out for her—
made sure her blinds came up
the same time every morning,
her lights went off at night,
but Christmas was busy;
we thought she was away, not hurt
on the stone floor.
She died suddenly; it might have been a fall.
(We don’t know the details.)
She wasn’t hateful, or cruel, or any of those things,
but she made me feel small.
She was an old woman on her own
and now I feel guilty for every thing I thought—
all the times I avoided her, not really giving her a shot.
Looking out across the trees covered in snow
I know, she’s never coming out that back door again.
I’m sorry, Diane.
Kathleen Mortensen © 2016