A Man Lived Down the Hall
A man lived down the hall from me
He died this morning
Christmas Eve morning
Only yesterday moved to a Veteran’s Home
I wonder what he thought of that?
I knew him first as a walk
Tall with a shoulders-back saunter
Carrying his necessary oxygen
On a shoulder strap - with panache
I wonder what will become of that?
I know him as the man
Who kept a feral cat as house pet --
Seen by others only as a tip of tail
Black, all black with low growl
I wonder what will become of it?
They nuzzled each morning
The man grinned, telling this,
Cat on chest, face to face, ending only
In three smoochy kisses to the cat’s forehead
I wonder what the cat will think of this loss?
The man was a friend to me
I saw myself reflected in him
We talked, we met to talk
Not of anything but everything
I wonder where that reflection of me is gone?
A self-proclaimed lapsed Buddhist
Raised Catholic, plagued by Faith
Freed at last, untethered and uncertain
Landed finally in Buddhist calm
I wonder is he’s landed in Buddha’s hand?
That gulls are soaring this morning
Outside my windows, up to and off again
Circling and gliding around and around
All about this building and high, high above
I wonder if they silently salute his freedom?
I sit where the man would sit
When he came to visit
For a long natter or chinwag or both
And I gaze out the window, as he did
I wonder if I’ll think of him each time I sit here?
Each week, he stuffed into my door handle
The NYT magazine and book review sections
Just as I, each month, placed by his door
Copies of The Smithsonian and National Geographic
I wonder to whom I’ll give them now? ?
It was only this past summer
After four years of friendly acquaintance
That we happened to come to talk
And find our conversational legs
I wonder who he’ll be talking with now?
He has a partner of many years, living separately
Wise, that arrangement -
She on the ground floor
He up here, on top, down the hall from me
I wonder how she’ll fare now?
She’d smiled at our nattering together
She’d already heard all his stories
I know how that is, but still
A kind and open-handed sharing
I wonder who she’ll smile at now?
I miss him, this man down the hall
Tall sauntering oxygen-fed
Wise gentle witty generous
A listener born, bred and kind
I wonder who he’ll be listening to now?
I sit by the window, feeling gentle sorrow
In this chair, where he sat, I remember him
I gaze down the hill side and out to the cove
I watch the gulls and think he soars, now too
I wonder what he thinks of death’s liberation?
It’s Saturday, with live Metropolitan Opera
Today it’s The Daughter of the Regiment
He loved opera and always listened
We both did, as I will do now, with thoughts of him
I wonder if there’ll be opera where he is?
I miss him
I shall miss him
I remember him
I shall remember him
I wonder ....
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