I live at the end of the road.
In the house we built
right after our honeymoon,
almost fifty years ago.
My driveway starts at the the opening
in a post and split rail fence
surrounding my property.
It stretches some two hundred feet
from road to garage.
It is tree lined, but not intentionally.
I keep the place reasonably raked and mowed
but these are free range trees.
My favorite season is Fall
when Natures Autumn rainbow
covers the ground with breeze-blown leaves,
red maples, yellow birch, ocher oaks…
dying into the crumbling death blanket
which snow and sparkling ice will
bury in a month or so,
as they will her, now, cut back
roses growing in her garden.
At the meeting place of road and driveway
grows an old maple from whose thick branch
hangs my canvas “sky chair”.
Sometimes, I swing there, waiting for the mail.
Outside the fence stands a tall
utility pole supporting telephone and electric wires
running to my home.
It has been rooted there, almost thirty years.
I have no idea how old the maple is
and I won’t cut it down to count its rings.
I wait in my sky chair beneath the maple branch
for the next bill,
or the next batch of her, now,
never used, catalogues,
or an infrequent letter from
one of my few old fogey friends
or retired colleagues
I have left in the world
who, like me,
refuse to email, post or tweet.
Sometimes, in warm weather, I doze.
Sometimes, I fall sound asleep.
Sometimes I dream of spooning.
Soft, warm dreams,
my memories of her, coming to life in my mind.
Sometimes, if I am snoring,
My friend and mailman, Jim McCarthy,
manuvers his electric jeep
up next to my mail box which hangs from the pole,
quietly delivers my daily distractions and drives off,
leaving me to my sonorous epics.
Once, drowsing on an Autumn afternoon,
shaded by the remaining leaves,
I heard a conversation.
I thought it might be those two old ladies,
my nearest neighbors who live in a cottage
about a half mile back down the road.
Some of the folks in town wink and say
the two are sister spinsters.
Others laugh and say that they are, well..,
But I am not deeply interested in
other peoples sleeping arrangements.
There are better things to talk about…
So, I kept my eyes shut and faked a snore
to avoid any unnecessary companionship.
They kept talking.
One of them said,
“…well, yes, that’s easy for you to say.
But you know how hard it is for me to just,
just be here.”
The other said,
“But darling, I love it here and I feel like I’m…
I’m doing something.
“I know dear, but surely you had other aspirations,
“Accident! That was no accident!
It was an outrage.
You don’t know how it was!
You can’t imagiine!
And now, finally, after I’ve found something to do!
You decide you want to move on!”
“Yes! Yes I want to leave!
There! Ive said it, finally!”
“Eleanor, we can’t leave,
Our roots are just too deep here.
You belong here.
And I’m stuck here too.
Always being big practical me.
Always helping someone along.
Don’t you think I wanted to branch out?
Do something colorful!
Just like you do all the time,
year in, year out…
I just stay here.
A big, useful piece of wood.”
She began to cry.
Now, I’m no Nosey Parker,
but when some good old fashioned-
interesting- piece of gossip
just plops into my lap,
well, I’m as prone to publish it as anyone.
So I kept snoring.
until their voices drifted off.
The last thing I heard was,
you want to leave and I want to leaf,
but we’re both stuck here.
We might as well get used to it.”
Besides, you’re such good company.
All these years,
I couldn’t bare
to loose you.”
I kept still ’till I figured
they were far enough gone
down the road.
But when I opened my eyes,
The road was empty
as far as I could see.
But those two old ladies hobbled to slow
to be gone that fast!
What the blazes!!!
As I swung there, trying
to parse the mystery,
I realized I’d grown cold.
A breeze had come up,
out of no where.
A mottled red and green maple leaf
landed on my head,
hung there and then slid down my cheek
like a big sloppy tear.
The wind moaned against the pole.
I quickly emptied the mail box.
Started up the drive way,
one daily chore accomplished.
and I’ll swear by everything that’s Holy.
I heard some one whisper,
I hope he thinks he was dreaming!”
I would be mortified to be caught
eavesdropping on someones private conversation.
But as they had come down the road towards me,
it wasn’t my doing,
so I turned around and caught,
an old utility pole and a maple tree
all lady like,
in the fading, hazy red sunset
of an Autumn afternoon.