I have been over the water
                                    and lived there all alone.

                                            – William Stafford (“Looking Across the River”)

Perhaps it was Ike Clark, decades
after he stepped off the train
in Exeter from Tennessee,

barefoot in bibs looking for work—
or the shack he shared with goats
and chickens, roosters crowing

in the citrus grove he earned.
I never saw a woman, though
he had grandkids that sometimes

waited with us at the stop sign
for the school bus, where he’d pass
early on his way home, alone

in his green, ‘52 Chevy heaped
with vegetables from the alley
behind the red brick Safeway

to feed his menagerie, horse, pigs
and a milk cow in makeshift pens
you could barely see from the road.

Millionaire hermit, he may as well
lived across the river, his flock
of guinea sentries scratching

beneath his orange trees,
the hollow and empty sounds
of peacocks crying at dawn.

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