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Trash Cans At The Manion House

When I was in grammar school
I knew it was Wednesday
when I looked out the window
and saw across the street
three trash cans at the curb
in front of the Manion house.

No matter how early I got up
the three cans would be there
looking like a trio waiting
to break into song.

When I'd get home from school,
the cans would be gone.
They had been put away,
I figured, until their next gig
the following Wednesday.

When I was in high school,
I noticed one day only two
cans standing at the curb.
I was told the son had married
and moved to another city
and his parents missed him.
But two cans were enough
to tell me it was Wednesday.

When I came home from college,
I noticed my first week back only
one can was stationed at the curb.
My mother told me at breakfast
Mr. Manion had died and
Mrs. Manion wasn't doing well.

For the years I was in college
that solitary can was always
in front of the house.
It was still there when I
graduated, found a job,
married and moved away.

My wife and I would visit my folks,
and one Sunday after dinner
my father asked me to give him
a lift to the doctor on Wednesday.
When I pulled up in the car
I noticed no can was waiting
in front of the house.

My mother told me Mrs. Manion
had died and the house was for sale
at a good price in case my wife
and I might be interested.
She said it would be a good place
to raise kids if we ever had any.
My father usually said little
but coughed and agreed.

They seemed happy because
I hadn't said no to the idea.
I knew they would like us
to live across the street but
I wanted to talk with my wife.
But my parents stared at me
when I asked if they could find out
if the trash cans were included
in the price of the house.
I'd need them on Wednesdays.

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Comments (1)

They say you can learn a lot about someone by examining their trash, but I've never wanted to know that much. Your poem brilliantly reduces our existence to that which can fit into a garbage can. You have an excellent writing style, and it fits this poem particularly well. You chose not to embellish your poem with unnecessary details- less garbage to drag to the curb. Well done. I think the Manions would be very happy to learn that someone noticed their passing.