My Buddhist Neighbor

Published in Voices de la Luna (November 2018)


The steps need sweeping again.
We have let the willow get too large and
it overhangs the walk,
blanketing it daily in yellow leaves
the shape of almonds.
Leaves that remind me of Lucy’s luminous yellow eyes,
her fur a moonless night, her chatty purr.
The leaves
and suddenly I miss her.

I hear the faraway roar of the trains,
their clatter mingling with the rustling willow,
then the sharp whine
as they dive under the Bay miles off.
I am running late, and
quicken down the leaf-strewn steps,
phone in hand, ready to send out excuses—
traffic, train delays, slippery
steps covered in cat eyes.

But halfway down, I stop.
My neighbor is standing in her driveway
by her open car door, also with phone in hand, and
I think it must be car trouble.
But then I see in her other hand
a tablespoon of sugar that she holds
just beyond the open door.
“Bumblebee in the car,” she says,
shrugging her shoulders.