Vincent

Vincent lived up the hill beyond our street,
back in the woods in a broken down shed.
He scared us, though we didn’t quite know why.
(Was it something that our parents had said?)

When the leaves fell we could just see his shed,
as we rode by, scared, in mom’s back seat.
We’d see him puttering around his porch,
throwing awful stuff for his hound dogs to eat.

We knew his name but called him “The Old Man.”
He kept an gray donkey with his bunch of hounds.
At night, in our beds, we’d hear barks and brays,
and cover our ears to block out their sounds.

Sometimes we’d hear something scarier still:
the clip-clopping sound of his donkey’s feet.
The Old Man would go out rambling at night,
pulling his donkey behind, down the street.

Where was he going? And what would he do?
Not knowing the answers was the scariest thing.
We’d lie awake after the sounds had stopped,
terrified of what that silence might bring.

The leaves fell and grew back a couple times,
and then we realized the dog sounds were gone.
No more clip-clopping waking us late at night,
no more laying there scared, waiting for dawn.

We never actually asked the grownups about it,
but one day someone’s mom said Vincent had died.
It didn’t occur to them that we’d be interested,
but when we heard that news, most of us cried.

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