One spring day he mounted your porch steps,
rang your doorbell, and as I surmise it,
backed down a step or two to seem less
threatening. We know he pointed out
the tree on your front lawn that had fallen
to its side, a tumble of gaunt ruin. Much
the way you would have appeared to the man
through the grimed mesh of your screen door.
So helpful, the man was, offering to cut the old
tree up and haul it off, a job he would accomplish
easily, for a modest sum. You would pay him half
at once, he explained, the other half the next day
when he came back to remove the tree. So very
helpful was the man that you agreed, writing
him a check, filling in the lines by long habit.
As a young woman you had to been a bank teller.
In age, you had forgotten how to use a telephone,
when to bathe and eat, forgotten you had owned
a car once the keys were taken from your purse.
But you remembered how to write a check.
As promised, the helpful man returned the next day,
not the sort to shirk his word. From within
the muddy shallows of your eyes you gazed
at him as he pointed out the fallen tree
on your front lawn, explained his helpful plan
to cut it up and haul it off if you would pay him
half that day. And so you did, and did, and did –
for days you did, the tree untouched – until
one of your sons caught the man in the act of being
helpful, which helped us know what we must do
with you, your house, and all your things, fallen:
first the cutting, and then the hauling off.