On the porch

Having worked away from home
for two years, and then moving back,
I look out across neat, green lawns,
muscles sore from the chores I’ve finished,
studying the work I’ve yet to do.

In the distance, across a neighbor’s home,
I hear the soft cooing of a dove. A Mack
semi disturbs me on its way to the Farm
store down the road. Its passing has not diminished
the dove’s song, however, nor my thoughts of you.

In the few weeks since my return,
the neighbor from across the street came
over to compliment me for the changes
I’ve made to the place. I thank her.
She leaves. She did not live there

when I went away to work, each hour yearn-
ing to come home. I forgot to ask her name.
She reminded me of how time rearranges
things, five widows and the only male neighbor
have died. An American flag hangs diaganol where

it never waved when I was a permanent.
It moves in the breeze, a new black
metal roof reflects sunlight.
So much for nostalgia. Five Tiger Lilies bend,
orange blooms on slender long stems too heavy to be

held straight up near the porch where only a hint
of sun filters through. A hawk lands, plots an attack.
The alarm cry of many birds in fright
goes out. The hawk glides, skimming the ground. Alarms end.
Out of the corner of my right eye I see

a half-grown robin as it lands on the railing
within an arm’s reach of me.
It studies me with quick head turns and tweets one
note, not of fright, that I cannot understand,
and then glides onto the lawn, for six other robins

have come sailing
into our poetry. They do not fear me.
Memory of the hawk is gone and done.
Though you never lived here, understand:
I miss you, not the hawk, its prey, and not the robins

at this moment in rhyme.