He brings me fresh fish from a poison lake, she brings brown canned peaches. They give me bottles of regifted liquor and buckets of flowers from unmanaged gardens. They march uninvited into my kitchen with brandy, excited about fascist developments. He burns chairs in his driveway and watches the blaze while nurturing the flame in his mouth. He empties his bowels in full view, at the edge of the woods on the far side of the field. They call the wild things with a dragon’s hoard of bird seed and shoot them all in the small hours, slinging the corpses into my woods. They fatten the feral cats, shaking their backwards heads at the screaming midnight feline orgy. I find shot in the watermelon, bad aim and worse judgment. She cries foul, kids today have no manners. They summon me with crooked fingers and up nods, tales of slaughter and right-wing nightmares on their breath. He smiles toothless, eyes on my chest, foraged gifts in his hands. I can’t, I won’t, I don’t know how to say, thank you no thank you. Where is the line between gratitude and tolerance, gifts and grabs, good neighbors and strong fences? Put that steak on the grill, I’ve had too much to drink.
Lisa Renee is a poet and essayist, and lives near a big lake in New York. You can find her writing at Exposition Review, The Hairpin, The Billfold, Medium, and Linden Avenue Literary Journal. She is managing editor of nonfiction at daCunha.