Emily Kerlin

I worry about the man
on the corner. He's not home
much, but some evenings I see
his bald head in the window,
still as a lamp for hours.

Perhaps tomorrow someone will
call him, or bring him a bowl
full of tomatoes. Save his wife's
garden beds from the advancing
pokeberry, the voracious squirrels.

Tonight as I walk by, a skinny cat
peers out from his dark porch
and a spider laces up the front
door. Light peers over
his small, sloped shoulders.

The late August breeze ushers
the swing to softly do what it did
before. The curtains shift,
moving with the soft suck of wind.
Pushing them out. Pulling them in.

Emily Kerlin has called the following things home: a black 1984 Mazda GLC, a 13-tatami-mat flat in Japan, a gaff-rigged schooner in Manhattan, a stone home on Lake Michigan, a blue left-zip mummy bag, a trimaran in Micronesia, a ski lodge in Montana and an upstairs apartment near the Baltic coast of Germany. Her current home sits at 728 feet above sea level in Urbana, Illinois where she has been teaching the difference between "chicken" and "kitchen" to English language learners in public schools for the last 20 years. Find her at

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