Meeting the Neighbors in my Nightgown
It wasn't fire or an earthquake that brought me outside
in my nightgown; I went only to fill the backyard bird feeder
so that the early risers could fill their tummies
but glanced up at a quiet whine from Nelson
as Frank yelled, "He doesn't bark at you,
anymore; he's decided he likes you," and they
came across the street toward me, Frank
in his wrinkled Madras shorts and unbuckled black galoshes,
though it wasn't raining and there were no puddles
or even sprinklers running. His chartreuse shirt
with the giant Mickey Mouse clashed with the ragged
pink and orange shorts. I was embarrassed
to have no bra, worried my breasts would giggle,
held my arms carefully over them until I bent
to pet Nelson and saw the hairy grizzly-bear heads
peering up through Frank's open black galoshes.
Eliana from next door was beside me then,
arms folded across her chest, bra-less, too,
wearing her son's high-top basketball shoes
and in a too short nightie with a man's shirt clutched
about her until she, too, bent to pet Nelson.
She giggled, I giggled, and suddenly we all laughed,
laughed and laughed until tears ran down our faces.
Nelson yapped at us and all the neighborhood dogs
set into howling and the mailman, coming around
the corner with his arms full, handed us our mail
with only the slightest flicker of a smile, said
"Top O'the Morning to you," and tipped his cap.
He bowed, danced a little jig, clicked his heels together,
and continued down the street, while Frank, Eliana
and I retreated quickly back into our separate homes,
wiping away tears and snorting softly to ourselves.
Mary Stebbins Taitt