Missing the Man Next Door
Mostly, I miss the sounds of him – scraping burnt toast at the open kitchen door, lobbing another empty baked bean can into the bin, Classic FM turned up to deafening, the cricket commentary, his Brian-Blessed voice
blasting from behind the garden fence:
Good morning madam!
Good morning Mrs Big-Knickers!
Was he talking to the cat?
or his late wife?
I never knew.
I liked that he was there.
I liked the way he sang Italian arias off-key.
I liked how every time he tottered to the corner shop
for bread and beans, he'd ping our metal gate post
with his stick, then nod and smile to hear the note it made
as if it was his tuning fork.
Each autumn he'd leave windfalls on our step.
And every Christmas there would be a card,
the spidery advice: Enjoy yourselves!
At ninety three, he'd still take to the road
in his little green Renault, reversing at high speed
from his garage with loud poop-poops of his horn
like an impoverished Mr Toad.
The house looks in a state of shock now that he's gone.
Sometimes, at night, a light goes on upstairs.
A single dangling bulb illuminates his room.
Stepladder centre stage.
Paint pot on the window sill.
This was first published in Obsessed with Pipework, Edition 90. Annie Fisher’s background is in primary education, initially as a teacher and later as an English adviser. Now semi-retired she writes poetry for both adults and children and sometimes works as a storyteller in schools. She has had two pamphlets published with HappenStance Press: Infinite in all Perfections (2016) and The Deal (2020). She is a member of Fire River Poets, Taunton. You can find them here: www.fireriverpoets.org.uk.