Monday 1 June 2020

A Stranger Came Knocking

by Cynthia Anderson

—which never happens, since
our house sits far from the street,
behind No Trespassing signs.
We put them up years ago to stop
Jehovah’s Witnesses. The last
opened with, How do you explain
tragedy in our lives? I replied,

You know that blind spot on
our driveway? If you meet a car
going the other way, that’s tragedy.
We keep track of who’s expected,
can’t let you arrive at random.
Please, don’t come back.

Today, a young woman stood
at the door with long, curly hair,
a backpack, and a big dog who
ran wild, trying to force his way
inside. She said he was a stray,
that they hiked onto our land
from the south—crossing open
desert, then over a rocky hill.

She claimed to live on the next
street, just wanted to meet her
neighbors. While she talked
about being single, I kept
glancing at a thick book
lying on the doormat—
like a Bible, with a grey cover.
What was it doing there?

Soon enough she confessed—
Jehovah’s Witness. I’m harmless,
she laughed, eyes averted.
Nervous, on a suicide mission,
ordered not to return without
my soul? Under the thumb
of the man I sent packing
long ago? An innocent,
pawn, shyster, or all three?

She picked up the printed bait.
I led her down the front walk
to the driveway, advised her
to stick to the road, and gave
her directions home. Later,
I walked the property,
wondered if her knock
was a cry for help.

Despite twisted motives,
she had the right thought—
to meet her neighbors.
One day we might face
disaster and need each other—
while stray dogs go crazy
around us, getting away
with whatever they can.

* * * * *

Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she is the author of nine poetry collections. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows &

1 comment:

  1. [THUD] I feel like I've just watched a five-star movie, the kind that keeps playing in your head long after you've left the theater.