Meeting My Inspiration Again


One sunny afternoon last week, I was resting in my recliner, listening to the drone of lawnmowers and whine of weeedwhackers as my landscapers did their weekly business in my yard. Suddenly, I heard a crash. This time, it wasn’t my garage door being smashed by a truck belonging to a patron of the day care center next door. It was a lawnmower colliding with a car in my neighbor’s driveway on the other side. I know this only because one of the landscapers, not knowing me, came to my door, thinking it was my driveway and my car.

According to a policeman who showed up a couple of hours later, the car sustained a lot of damage. I gave him the landscaping company’s phone number, and he gave me his card, saying he remembered asking me years ago if drivers were stopping to let me cross streets with my white cane. I couldn’t believe it.

In the fall of 2002, I was single and living in an apartment complex subsidized for seniors and people with disabilities. A registered music therapist, I was working in a nursing home. On a day off, I was walking home after my water exercise class at the YMCA. I’d just jaywalked in front of my building and stopped to talk to a neighbor in a wheelchair when she told me there was a policeman behind me. I turned around and there he was, on a bicycle.

Where had he come from? Had he seen me jaywalk? Was I about to get a ticket, my first ever brush with the law?

To my surprise and relief, he asked me if I was having difficulty crossing streets because drivers weren’t stopping. I told him that as long as I used four-way and other intersections where drivers were required by law to stop, I rarely had a problem. I also explained that I couldn’t see well enough to get the license plates from offending vehicles. He said he would bring up the issue at roll call and rode away.

Now, I was again flustered, even though I’d done nothing wrong this time. All I could tell him was that our first meeting had inspired my first novel. I should have given him my card, but I didn’t. He probably thought I was nuts and wished he’d given me that ticket for jaywalking years ago. In any case, we parted amicably enough.

After I posted about this incident on Facebook, someone asked if the story would continue. That remains to be seen. I may never see that officer again, but I’ll always have the memory of how our first meeting inspired We Shall Overcome.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Stay Away from My Tree House

Last year, a day care center opened next door to me. One day, I overheard one or two children admiring, from afar, the tree house in my back yard. The following poem was inspired by one of those “what if” moments I get as a writer.

What if one of those kids sneaked into my yard, climbed my tree, then fell? What if I wasn’t home, and the child lay injured on the ground for hours before help arrived? What if his parents sued me? The tree house has since been taken down due to concerns about the tree’s stability.

This poem was published in Mingled Voices 2, an anthology produced by Proverse Poetry of Hong Kong. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

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stay away from my treehouse.mp3

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STAY AWAY FROM My TREE HOUSE

Little one, it looks inviting, doesn’t it,
a house nestled in an old oak tree?
It’s far from homey.

It came with this house I bought ten years ago.
I don’t know how long it’s been there,
wooden ladder rickety, perhaps unstable.

If you manage to get to the top,
who knows if the structure would bear weight?
Like the cradled baby in the treetop,
you and the house could tumble down, down, down,
land on the ground all broken.

The ambulance would take you away.
Wearing a body cast from head to toe,
you’d spend weeks, months in the hospital.
Unable to do anything
but lie there and watch television,
you’d long to be outside with your friends.
Dora the Explorer would get old after a while.

Your parents would sue me.
I’d have to sell my house
in order to pay your hospital bill,
move to a senior apartment complex,
where I could no longer enjoy my own back yard,

so you’d better not climb into my tree house
if you know what’s good for both of us.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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