Hillary Fink


My neighbor loves the trees that surround our outdated complex,
she describes them as though she is painting the curves and buds
in her mind’s eye from scratch
                                                   filling the space between us with details she has collected
                                                   from watching the gentle shift and rebirth over the years

I see her most mornings walking around our building
                         carrying a yellow bucket;
                         both hands clasping the handle behind her

                                                 stopping at times to talk to our cat in the window

She closes her eyes as she describes them to me,
guiding her arms gracefully in the air
as though they themselves are the branches
that sway in the wind.

Her favorite is the crab apple tree that sits at the corner,
with its branches that lazily hang over the porch of an elderly couple
who dutifully sweep away its droppings

She lives alone my neighbor,
                          never married
                                       and she and I bond over our cats
                                                    and the simplicity of sipping iced tea on hot, summer mornings

As I drink my coffee on the paint chipped porch, my neighbor reminisces aloud
admiring how the flowers remind her of her sister’s prom dress

each delicate, pink bud resembling the taffeta that encompassed the dress
—a sweeping waist line;
                                     and her hair softly pulled on the top of her head

my sister was tall, 5’8", she tells me.
her date wore a navy blue suit

my father was painting a set of chairs that day, now my chairs,
green they were
and her date had taken a seat upon one of the freshly painted chairs

he went to prom with three stripes along his back,
                                               —it was a rented suit
                                                           her laugh is abrupt and cool
                                                           stopping, careful to not spill into the next sentence

but my sister was so beautiful