Poem with a Line from Neruda

Time, you beckon. Before
you were a proliferation of billboards;
double-armed streetlights rising
              from a continuous median, 
evenly spaced parade of réverbères
going down a crowded avenue.  
Checkerboards of light fell
             out of buildings where, in each
square someone was working
or doing sums at a table, someone
was reading a book or ironing
             a shirt, washing potatoes 
in a colander, or singing
a child to bed. Today, I watched 
a neighbor load bag after bag
              into a van, and still
there was more—a lifetime's 
accumulation of things. Time,
you crept up on her as well,
              and you were also the sly 
foghorn with a low-frequency 
voice, warning small craft away 
from the rocky coastline. 
              There are things we don't see
until it's almost too late. One by one,
one day, we'll finally step inside 
the door you hold open. 
               But after that, I am asking 
again: who will split and stack
kindling, bring water to my loves,  
dress and cool their fevered skin?  

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