At the End of the Day

by Bill Brown

          God made everything out of nothing,
          but the nothingness shows through.  Paul Valery

My neighbor stirs around the yard
rearranging junk damaged lawn
chairs, his grandson’s scooter,

an old fishing boat, stacks of insulation
and bricks. He can’t seem to finish
anything before he starts something new.

He did three tours of duty in Vietnam
so two other kids wouldn’t have to fight.
Then thirty years driving the night run

from Nashville to Atlanta to appease
darkness. Now retired, he waves,
smiles, tosses a shock of white hair

from his eyes and goes back to his
special kind of loneliness. I’d complain
about my property value, the mud

from his grassless horse lot covering
my drive, but it wouldn’t change
anything, and besides, I’d hear

my father say you weren’t raised
that way. So I go about weeding
the garden to plant new iris, throw

a windfall persimmon at my cat so she
can check her batting average. At the end
of the day, I’ll wave a smile to my neighbor

as he feeds sweet mix to Dakota and Thunder,
watch the horses rest their chins on his shoulders
his favorite chore and best effort to stay the night.