The man next door is useful.
He mows around our shed in spring, cuts
firewood, stacking it smartly for winter.
His wife comes outside only in morning,
shuffles down the driveway, crossing the road
to the mailbox. She is pale as an ocean
stone with sand-scraped skin
softened by the circling sea.
Now, it is summer. Her husband
skims the in-ground pool.
For hours, he stands over nearly-
clear water removing debris.
He never stops skimming, skips
breakfast, work, phone calls, dessert.
The grass grows high against the shed.
The lawn stretches lazily as the wind yawns.
The mailbox shuts its mouth:
it is full of unanswered statements.
The man next door skims
the surface of the unused pool.
He catches leaves, Polly noses, Japanese beetles.
At night, he dreams of quarantine: black
iridescent blotches, Rorschach
butterflies floating into white net.
(Originally Published in Typishly 2020)