The alley has gone to hell, garages belching
robot grunge and failed steampunk rust.
In between, a green sprawl of pumpkins
and watermelons lines the fence
and spills over the tops of compost bins.
An Airstream that has seen too many rivers,
aluminum foil peeling from yellowed windows,
is raised on cinderblocks to shade hunkering cats.
Over there, they’ve given up on the bamboo,
or maybe given over, letting it claim the steps,
the deck, the front door and back, the automatic
light switch a feeble gesture of occupancy.
And Jim’s fence, well, he probably isn’t
going to replace it this year, just prop it
again and let it lean and sink deeper into the grass.
Chickens mutter in their wire pens, narrating
the afternoon as a single crow monitors
my progress up the alley, swooping low and loud
just above my head. On these hot weekends,
with the buzz of lawnmowers and the tock
of baseballs from the park, I like to remember
winter, to recall the tree-cracking winds of November
and how the light shines upward from the ground
on those rare and welcome days of snow.

© j.i. kleinberg

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