Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

In this poem for November, the late Maine poet Theodore Enslin considers the relentless and mysterious purposes of his neighbors.


By Theodore Enslin

That time in the early evening,

a cold sunset gone—

colder than I remember

a year ago

at apparently

the same time—

the time when cars

go by, one after another.

Purposeful, not speeding,

just to get home.

My neighbors are tired

and hungry

For what

do they hunger?

beyond a break in the day,

in from the cold?

A warm dinner.

What more do they want?

Where do they turn?

Words fail.

They cannot tell me.

If they could

I would not hear them

going past


this ordinarily quiet road.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright 1994 by Theodore Enslin. Reprinted from “The Quotable Moose: A Contemporary Maine Reader,” University Press of New England, 1994. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, special consultant to the Maine poet laureate, at [email protected] or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.

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