As usual with anniversary-type dates anymore, it seems both not that long ago, and longer, at the same time. So I dug back into my ancient Works files and found the poem I wrote that year, and thought I’d share…
Elegy for a Neighbor
Fred Rogers, 1928-2003
He’s coming through another front door now,
exchanging that blue sweater for something finer,
hanging it up with the rest of his earthly form,
though I hope he somehow keeps the sneakers,
still tosses one from one hand to the other
where the music ripples in delight.
The Neighborhood of Make-Believe is in official mourning,
their king laid to rest, the trolley still,
Picture Picture solemnly dark.
He will not be back, now, when the day is new.
I remember watching him again
when I was first on my own–
the apartment’s cable hadn’t been hooked up,
PBS and daytime talk the only options,
so I watched him while I ate lunch and thought
how much he was like an old family friend,
that adult who didn’t wave you away
with “you’re too young to understand,”
a little, really, like we think of God,
benevolent, comforting, loving his neighbor.
He didn’t even know my name
but liked me just the way I was,
told me it was okay to feel the way I did,
that everyone felt that way sometimes:
angry, sad, jealous, confused.
It’s okay, then, to feel the way I do now.
Dawn has been only gray and cold,
but I turn away from the news
and stand to look out into the morning.
Snow covers the houses
like a child’s beloved blanket.
It is the beginning
of another beautiful day.