The Sudden Light And The Trees

My neighbor was a biker, a pusher, a dog
And wife beater.
In bad dreams I killed him

And once, in the consequential light of day,
I called the Humane Society
About Blue, his dog. They took her away

And I readied myself, a baseball bat
Inside my door.
That night I hear his wife scream

And I couldn’t help it, that pathetic
Relief; her again, not me.
It would be years before I’d understand

Why victims cling and forgive. I plugged in
The Sleep-Sound and it crashed
Like the ocean all the way to sleep.

One afternoon I found him
On the stoop,
A pistol in his hand, waiting,

He said, for me. A sparrow had gotten in
To our common basement.
Could he have permission

To shoot it? The bullets, he explained,
Might go through the floor.
I said I’d catch it, wait, give me

A few minutes and, clear-eyed, brilliantly
Afraid, I trapped it
With a pillow. I remember how it felt

When I got my hand, and how it burst
That hand open
When I took it outside, a strength

That must have come out of hopelessness
And the sudden light
And the trees. And I remember

The way he slapped the gun against
His open palm,
Kept slapping it, and wouldn’t speak.

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The Sudden Light And The Trees