Notes to My Neighbor
Hinting your door stood open again, your ferret scurried near the stairs
Pawing at the building’s glass door, he peered with curious furry stares
Meeting his gaze with evening eyes made my workday-muscle-soreness flare
Cursing when his playful upstairs-dart issued the pursue-me-if-you-dare
Entering, chasing, capturing; the slippery rodent squirmed lightly
Descending to your apartment showed the door in draft swaying slightly
Picturing your forgetful, sleepy entry to sofa-sprawled napping
(Studying, waitressing, ferret-mothering: all energy sapping!)
Releasing the oily beast between door and jamb quickly scampering
Retracting knob silently ended with the handle gently latching
Opening my neighboring door fumbled keys from your rodent’s greasing
Frowning, smelling hands shook my head in ferret’s residual reeking
Unlocking, entering my apartment, hands rushed the sink for cleaning
Pausing scrubbing of my rat-fouled flesh, a close of eyes stretched smile beaming.
Written Circa 1998 ~ Revised and Published 2022
My neighbor sometimes left her front door open when she returned home exhausted. Each apartment opened into a small alcove that hid the front door upon entering the living room, depending on the manner decorated. As such, an open front door might go unnoticed for hours. The first time finding her ferret wandering the building’s stairwell, I knocked on her door, and she retrieved the creature, which turned out to be friendly. She explained she fell asleep, and my assuming this an isolated incident proved wrong as weeks passed and returning from work or exiting the apartment sometimes revealed the creature exploring.
Though I liked the ferret, he was a bit musky and sometimes greasy from his coat needing oil. Getting to know her instilled this knowledge and a crush that made me reticent to knock, not wishing to wake her. Future encounters inspired secret ferret retrievals and door closings, among other neighborly acts. Though silly, most of those incidents formed small displays of affection, and not mentioning them felt special.
Originally written under the title “Notes to My Neighbor,” the pieces formed a collection of numbered short poems originally slated for Enigma. The name became problematic, having formed a titling habit that filled boxes since age eighteen with “Notes to So and So” or “Notes About Something." Enigma’s first edition contained this chapter heading but eventually changed to a less derivative and more appropriate title. Many of those small poems lacked quality, but over time, I reworked the most hopeful and incorporated them into The Dawn with chapter titles enumerated and labeled “Notes to My Neighbor” to show different perspectives but also for nostalgia.
This particular piece was unusual for me to write at that time, and similar future works evolved into a mosaic style present in Torn and The Tiny Actress. I added a better rhyme scheme since the poem was a free verse style I no longer favored. Like other works from this period, I feared losing the message or emotion and chose to maintain the original form as much as possible.