The last client of the day in my home office:
a housepainter, pants spattered, baseball cap
pulled down. Sitting in shadow, but I saw his high.
Yeah, he confirmed. His dealer found him.
I can’t get away. His voice certain, his lot
as fixed as dusk settling.
Outside, katydids made themselves heard,
cicadas buzzed near flowering hydrangeas
at my open window. The hour before,
a grizzled man long in recovery, who labored
in my yard each week, mowed careful symmetry:
a million blades of green shifting light.
He keeps the grass lush to hide imperfections,
shelter from the scorch of sun. Today, he brought
zucchini, tomatoes his wife had grown.
I’d slice them once the painter left,
but he was still talking. I said his name.
Our time was up. He looked over, as if surprised
at where he was, then motioned to an abstract
on the wall. Is that new? He fixed his gaze on me,
smiled. You live alone? Have a husband?
I stood. He got to his feet, swaying. Outside,
insects called from the earth’s floor:
a swarm of katydids, crickets
drumming my evening lawn. Or, was it
my heart I heard – strumming, fearful,
as he strode past, left the room?
Irene Sherlock is a dual-licensed marriage and family therapist and alcohol and drug counselor who lives and practices in Danbury, CT. Her poems have been widely published and anthologized. A chapbook of her poems, “Equinox,” was published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press.