He looked like the feral cat
          I saw many years ago
when we first moved to this old farmhouse
          where our closest neighbors are a quarter mile away.

Why the old cat scared me
          I don’t know,
                     maybe it was the way it walked
unaware of the world around it, missing eye and ear,
          scarred and mangy body, half a tail.

I did not want to encounter
          such a broken being in my home. I did not know its story
                     and only knew my fear.

Which returned yesterday
          when gunshots were not muffled,
                     too close to be the neighbors
as I ran from the clothes line with my fear
          of being shot.

Waiting at the picture window
          I saw an old man stumble into view
                     unaware of the world around him,
swinging arms, rolling head,
          half bald and gray mangy beard,
                     dingy tee shirt and baggy blue jeans.

I did not want to encounter this being
          as he staggered toward our house. I did not want to know his story
and only knew my fear.

Like the feral cat, he turned
          and wandered down the road
                     leaving me to wonder
if this fear of damaged beings
                                  would ever leave home.