Close : Angela Topping

Our neighbour is dying.
Last month his wife died. 
Cancer was a guest in their house
far too short a time for him,
too long for her. 

We had never been inside their house,
nor they in ours. 
The neighbourliness of friendly hellos
difficulties of parking
yappiness of their golden spaniel
decorations on their front door
for birthdays, Christmassess
and all the other fine things
they will not see again - 
that was the extent of our relationship. 

Lockdown made a piazza
of our turning circle, our neighbour
centre stage with his guitar
his wife in a headscarf from chemo
We kept our responsible distance - 
Bye Bye Miss American Pie
and We’ll Meet Again

We lined the close for her funeral,
now send him messages of cheerfulness. 
What else could neighbours do
who never exchanged a hug
nor held him when he wept. 

Before the messages arrived
a private ambulance came
while we were all eating dinner,
took our neighbour away
silently to the mortuary.