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 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 a friend.
Griping about the roadwork (her new tires),
she predicted 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 asked if I should 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. “Keep calm,” he said. I tried.
I bought a card (fall leaves, rain) but retired
it to the junk drawer—What if it upset
Ted’s wife? My wife told me to wait a month
and I’d forget about the accident.
I waited. I started hearing 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.
Originally published in Miracle Monocle.
Brian Brodeur is the author of the poetry collections Self-Portrait with Alternative Facts (2019), Natural Causes (2012) and Other Latitudes (2008), as well as the poetry chapbooks Local Fauna (2015) and So the Night Cannot Go on Without Us (2007). New poems and essays appear in American Poetry Review, Hopkins Review, Kenyon Review, Pleiades, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Editor of the digital interview archive How a Poem Happens as well as the Veterans Writing Workshop of Richmond, Indiana, Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches at Indiana University East.