Gazing out my window echoes of the past flash by,

a scene of my neighbor wielding a scythe,

slashing grain in a field.

His sinewy back and gnarly fingers

make him look like a thresher in a Millet painting.

He inherited his family’s farm, a crumbling house

with no plumbing or heat.

The barn sags in the middle like a scoliotic old horse.

He’s nervous and shy, won’t say hello

if he can turn away fast as if he didn’t see,

or else he’ll affirm whatever is said

with a sudden inhalation of air he gasps.

For breakfast he devours a whole loaf of sliced bread

slathered with crab-apple jelly he harvests

from withered old trees in his lane.

Deep in the woods he built a log cabin

where he sits like a monk on piles of silver fox pelts

he’s snared with a loop he designed.

With pick and shovel he’s a tireless worker

impervious to heat or cold, earning enough

to buy a new Bonneville each and every year.

Without any passengers or place to go it sits in his yard,

steps from his outhouse, a mobile sphinx.

Day in and day out it’s washed and waxed

sparkling with a sheen better than new.

The cat sits on the hood in the sun, dog likes it cool

under the car, chickens cluck around and around,

guardians of his prized possession.

Gossiping neighbors have him pegged as “A bit touched in the head,”

others joke “His ladder doesn’t go all the way to the top,”

or “He’s as dull as a basket full of hammers.”

A man of few words, kids call him “Don the deep,”

taunting him to share profound thoughts.

Older, he seems more bewildered and unkempt,

rarely if ever leaving his house.

Recently, the postman couldn’t find him home,

discovered him crouched in the hen house smiling serenely

with a hen on his lap laying a jumbo- sized egg.