The Old Neighborhood
by Sheila Wellehan

My new kitchen window frames forest, dense and wild
the last one highlighted a single regal white pine
and the neighbors’ wood chipper, ATV, and snowmobile fleet
all in various states of repair and reconstruction.

I love the green and the peace
no skate punks ducking police
but to tell the truth
sometimes I miss the old neighborhood.

Things started changing long before I left
the organic bakery was the best
but home delivery of The Wall Street Journal
made me a little uneasy.

Expensive baby carriages and Volvos
began replacing piles of lobster traps and buoys
used to make a living
not to decorate the yard or family room.

I always said that our block
couldn’t get too fancy and lost
because of the huge blue butterfly
perched on the cottage next to the bakery.

At least eight feet across
it hovered proudly and watched
as stockbrokers and lawyers
joined lobstermen, artists, and teachers.

Last week craving a cinnamon bun
I made a bakery run
the butterfly was gone
the cottage for sale at a price that amazed me.

I drove by my old bungalow
just to say a quick hello
my white pine was a stump
no longer a revered elder.

In the fog I still see
butterflies, buoys, and my tree
the old block
not this strange shiny city.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My sister Katie Wellehan (right) and I prepare for our very first move in Portland, Maine, in 1964. My mother was pregnant and we were moving to a house with more room for our growing family in the same city. The new house eventually housed six sisters.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For me, the hardest part of any move comes after, when I miss the place I left. “The Old Neighborhood” was inspired by a move of just a few miles eight years ago. I visit my old neighborhood often, and, although I love it, it’s not quite the same neighborhood I lived in for 11 years.

Wellehan - current

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheila Wellehan‘s poetry has recently been featured or is forthcoming in Chiron Review, The Fourth River, Pittsburgh Poetry Houses, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Yellow Chair Review, and other journals. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine with two cats and two dogs. Visit her online at sheilawellehan.com.