They’re piling up. (The grass is growing now, at least shin-deep. Last fall’s leaves have been caught up in the shadowy seam between grass and house. And somewhere in there, too, are the feral offspring of a garden – gangly and thorned now, reaching up the side of the house.)
They’re piling up. Earnest calls and says something offensive, talks about all the slush. It’s not winter, I tell him. The earth is alive, I say, and life itself is overwhelming me.
Earnest lives by himself. He keeps his curtains drawn. He only comes out when he absolutely needs food. He would have you believe in the religion of his conversationalism, but every time he opens his mouth, there is only beaded saliva (that smells strangely of vinegar). One time, too, I swear I saw a corn earworm fall out of his mouth mid-sentence. It was dark out, though, and I could be mistaken.
You gotta shovel that shit away, he tells me. You gotta keep your driveway clear or, before you know it, it’s gonna re-freeze, all rutted and shit, and you’re gonna have a helluva time backing in and out of the garage.
It’s spring though. And the grass is at least knee-high by now. I hear things burrowing into the shadowy seam between grass and house, down where the garden used to be.
I peer out from my own curtained window and I see a black-winged bird picking at something atop a stiff stalk of grass. The stalk bows under the weight of the bird, but not too much since the animal is nearly lighter than air.
I smile at that. “Nearly lighter than air.” And of course, as I smile and think, the animal continues to pick at some beetle or louse and flash its hungry beak this way and that in the sun.
I will not mow the lawn. Not today. No, there is too much confusion out there. Twisted blades are sitting beneath the rusting mower deck. They need sharpening. The mower needs an oil change.
Tomorrow maybe I’ll get my hands dirty, pull the oil plug, watch last year’s lubrication drain (nearly black with sediment), refill the motor with clean SAE-30, and get to work. Today though, I’ll watch the bird pick at the beetle. Or louse.
from the collection of: d. heidel