Saturday, August 22, 2009


There is a house that sits at the curved tip of a quiet cul de sac. The sun is out and the five street lamps have been turned off. There are no children, no cars, nothing but the gentle rustle of a breeze. The front yard and the length of the entire house is shielded from the street by a wall of dark green bushes that reach 25 feet high with a denseness of three feet from the sidewalk. The foliage stretches from the edge of the property to the opening of the driveway, the only path free of bushes and green that leads to the house. The faded black asphalt has been made bumpy and mountainous from the thick tree roots just below the hardened layer of man, a testament to the patience of nature that will conquer all with time. Both the right and left side of the driveway are surrounded by tall green bushes. There is a single car parked silently in the driveway, a faded green Chevrolet that has sat in the same spot for three decades. The car is long and wide and emits a constant drip of oil that is caught in the metal basin below its hood. Just past the car is a white garage door that no longer opens. It was once pure white, but the paint has fallen off in large strips and the edges of the wooden door reveal gray wood damaged by sun and rain and wind. To the right of the asphalt there is a slender break in the bushes which opens to a slender cement walkway that extends 15 feet and then makes an abrupt left for another five feet, ending at an open white wooden door, the center of which has a grid-like pattern of beveled orange glass.
Between the bushes and the cement walkway is a tended rectangular garden. Although the property itself is angular, a slender strip of plastic fencing has been placed in the shape of a large circle, about thirty feet in diameter. This shape is the heart of the garden, the mandala around which everything revolves, all other plants surround it like ladies in waiting. The perimeter of the circle is made silver by small bunches of fuzzy lamb’s ear. Interspersed among the silver are patches of vibrant blue lobelia. Small ceramic gnomes and cats and porcelain figurines of English ladies dot the landscape. In the center of the circle is a white ceramic fountain, a chubby, naked Roman boy, dancing amid fluttering ribbons in the midst of a non-existent wind. The yard is quiet, a soft breeze just barely moves the leaves of the tall bushes along the sidewalk. Spotted shade and sunlight speckle the yard in the late afternoon sun. The house faces the yard, a row of windows with gauzy curtains reveal nothing of the world inside. Below the windows, in the small space of earth between the house and the cement walkway, tall bushes of red and pink geraniums glow in the speckled sunlight.

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