Skip to content

tend their yard every weekend,

when they paint or straighten

the purple fencepickets canting

each other at the edge of their lot,

hammering them down into soil

to stand. How long will they stay

put? My neighbors mend their gate,

hinges rusted to blood-colored dust,

then weave gold party-lights with

orange lobster-nets & blue buoys

along the planks. So much to see

& not see again, each chore undone

before they know it. I love how

faithfully they work their garden

all year, scumbling dried eelgrass

in fall, raking away mulch in spring.

Today the older one, Pat, plants

weeds ripped from a cranberry bog.

Sassafras & pickerel, black locust

& meadowsweet, wild sarsaparilla,

checkerberry, starflower. Will they

take root here? Meanwhile Chris waters

seeds sown months ago. Furrows

of kale, snapbean, scallion break

the surface, greedy for life. Muskrose

& lilac cast their last shadows. Is it

seeing or sun that makes them flicker,

as if they've vanished? They shake

like a letter in someone's hand.

Here come the guys from Whorfs

("Whores") Court, walking their dog

- also in drag - to the dunes.

I miss seeing Disorient Express

(a.k.a. Cheng, out of drag) walk by,

in tulle & sequins the exact shade

of bok choi. He must have survived

things no one can name, to name only

KS, pneumocystis, aplastic anemia.

I remember he walked off his gurney

when the ambulance came, then broke

his nurse's fingers in the hospital

when he tried to change his IV line,

wanting to live without meds. Zovirax,

Ativan, leucovorin? I don't know.

My neighbors pack down the loose dirt.

I'll never know what threads hold

our lives together. They kiss, then fall

on the grass. I should look away but don't.

The Couple Next Door

Suji Kwock Kim

More from
Poem of the Week