The Lift

Listen to Michael Collier reading this poem.

Bird song in the morning air
but also the whirr of my neighbor’s lift
as it raises him in his wheelchair
onto the bed of his truck.

Not someone to pity, he locks the wheels
in place and like a gymnast
on parallel bars manages himself
from his seat and then in a move

too quick to see disappears, though
because I’ve been there beside him
I know he’s on all fours crawling
to the tailgate where he swings

over the edge and continues
in the dirt of the drive. Sometimes
when I’m in the yard pulling weeds
or admiring sunlight through leaves

the electric whirr of the lift, followed
by its silence, breaks through and then
the hoof-slap of palms on the ground,
the scrape of shoes pulled along

by his strength and then I see him
as I did the first time, hoisting
a chain saw, by block and tackle,
and then himself, into the blighted tree

towering between our yards
and which, limb-by-limb, branch
and trunk, he cut down and stacked.