Dead Man Walking
Updated: May 30, 2022
His hoe set on his stooped shoulder, my neighbor’s trudge past my kitchen window pricked up my ears most mornings.
Because I live on the edge of a small village, he was the only passer-by.
I would only be easing into my day: making coffee, toasting bread, listening to poetry and jazz or classical music on Portugal's Antena 2 radio station.
Bom dia. Good day.
How could I feel overwhelmed by work on my land when my much older neighbor persevered on his and was so generous with advice, and even his handmade hoe and scythe, for me?
Because of his longevity in our village, at 80, he may have walked past my house longer than I had been alive. I am 66.
He told me that there had been a chestnut tree that towered over my house. Because of this, I planted a chestnut three years ago and told him so. A nod to the future. The tree now is pushing up to my height.
A year ago, my neighbor stopped the clock of his own volition.
That morning, he walked past my kitchen to his land carrying rope.
He had olive trees with which he shared an intimacy from years of pruning and bashing with a stick for the harvest to come raining down.
This time, he became the fruit.
Some mornings, I still hear him.
Senhor, I miss you.