Our neighbor Ted, a blind man, died last month.
We didn’t know his name until a friend
asked if we’d heard about the accident:
a rainy day, roadwork, a car’s bald tires.
My wife asked me why I was so upset—
I never even knew the guy’s first name.
“That’s why,” I said, “We should’ve known his name.”
“We just moved in,” she said, “It’s been nine months.”
“Ten,” I said, “Why aren’t you more upset?”
I heard her Skyping later with friend—
she griped about the roadwork (her new tires),
predicting it would cause an accident.
I glared at her: “Another accident.”
When she logged off, she shouted my full name
like my mother would. “Sorry,” she said, “I’m tired.”
I offered to buy a card—or was a month
too long to wait? She nodded, “For a friend
or relative. But buy one. You’re upset.”
I asked my therapist if he could set
me straight: “Zoloft?” He said the accident
brought back my cousin’s death, how I unfriended
his wife who’d photoshopped his rank and name
above a dead bald eagle. “That was months
ago,” I said. I tried to squeeze out a tear.
I bought a card (fall leaves, rain) but retired
it to the nightstand—What if it upset
Ted’s wife? My wife told me to wait a month
and I’d forget about the accident.
The more I tried the more I heard Ted’s name
in conversation. I annoyed my friends.
I couldn’t sleep. Why bother to befriend
new people anymore? My thoughts felt tired.
My voice, my attitude, even my name.
My wife was tired, too: “You’re still upset?”
“Yes, I’m upset, there’s been an accident.”
“Enough,” she said, “You’ve been this way for months.”
The months dragged on, the year. I felt less tired,
upset about my non-friend’s accident.
I mailed the card but didn’t sign my name.