Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma


I never knew you.

You lived across the street for twenty years, except for those times when the state incarcerated you.

I saw you wander the neighborhood collecting other people’s castoffs, seeing value in their trash.

A lawn mower with a clogged carburetor, a bicycle with a broken chain, a desk with an amputated leg.

You welcomed them all.

It was people who mystified you.

If only you could have connected with us the same way.

Instead you stared in our direction with van Gogh intensity.

You dared us to breach the space you built around yourself.

Someone once said that you must be a nice person because you loved dogs.

And you did.

But you frightened me enough that I kept my distance until that Sunday morning when the van pulled up to cart your body away.

Then I tried to understand you and why you would choose to leave this mortal coil.

I guess, in the end, you had nothing except the seven dumpsters of Things they hauled out of your house.

Your precious collection.

I may not have known you, but I will remember you.

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