- To the Old Man Who Lived on a Hill
He was looking for news of the world. He was looking for his daughterwho died in the fire, the car that burst into flames, the crash, his wifewho left him for her lover, he was looking
at the world through a window in the den, where he kept the photographsand the heater, the air conditioner and the dog treats, the trophiesfrom spelling bees and dance recitals. He was looking at how light changed
the texture of shadows, petals on the lawn. Spring is ending here,and dust collects on rows of encyclopedias lining the shelves,on the heavy crucifix hanging on the wall. It is morning,
it is night. The television flickers, muted: documentary, documentary,pornography, documentary, the news. I was hired to give him a reasonto live, and to rid the kitchen of its spoiled food, to clean
the animal droppings from the dogs, from the bird that would get inthrough the basement, to persuade him to sleep in his bed, and noton the plastic covered mattress in the guest room. His back ached.
There is sadness and then there is the thing beyond sadness.4:00 a.m. infomercials, roaches marching over the expanseof cracked walls, trying to masturbate and finding you cannot,
wanting your dogs to love you, and knowing they will eat youwhen you die. You could learn to change, you could learnto apologize, you think, if given the chance—
For a few hours of work I collect $70 a day,talk about the weather, dogs, politics. I take the rotting foodand replace it with green things. I watch his face animate, [End Page 107]
change, go blank for hours in the afternoon. Thena thought slides down, like morning dew on spider silk—it lingers for a moment, it tries to transform itself. [End Page 108]
Megan Pinto's poetry can be found or is forthcoming in Meridian, The Cortland Review, and Indiana Review. She has received scholarships from Bread Loaf and the Port Townsend Writer's Conference, and an Amy Award from Poets & Writers. She is a Playmakers Playwright at the Purple Rose Theatre Company, and holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson.