All the roofs sloped at the same angle.
The distance between the houses was the same.
There were so many feet from each front door
to the curb. My father mowed the lawn
straight up and down and then diagonally.
And then he lined up beer bottles on the kitchen table.

We knew them only in summer when the air
passed through the screens. The neighbor girls
talked to us across the great divide: attic window
to attic window. We started with our names.
Our whispers wobbled along a tightrope,
and below was the rest of our lives.

Poem copyright © 2006 by Nancy Botkin. Reprinted from “Poetry East,” Spring, 2006, by permission of the author, whose full-length book of poems, “Parts That Were Once Whole,” is available from Mayapple Press, 2007.
More Poems by Nancy Botkin