from the collection of: m. gantee

The house sits apart from the land like a kid with a shiner in a class photo: a part of it and still apart from it.

The bricks are the cheap kind.  The ‘70’s were full of cheap bricks.  Suburbs and suburbs full of them.  Tan, beige, mauve.  The color of some dusty southern hellhole.  The color of the earth in a technicolor western.

It sits there – a modest ranch built of a load of cheap bricks – in the middle of a field cut and reaped of its silage.  The low shreds of stalks buzz in the wind.

A hard sound.

The ground is hard.

Even the snow is hard: frosted over and crusted like a scab.  It was even brown, like a scab, because of the silt that was constantly stripped away from holes in the tattered, white blanket.

I drive past again.  Must have gone this way a thousand times.  But only noticed the house a week ago.

Cheap brick.  Windows always dark.  Concrete pad of a porch that was shoveled.  Nothing more than that.  Brick, windows, and concrete.  Silver ’97 Buick unmoved from its resting spot in the rutted snow.  Windows, dark.  Footprints – a trudging parade of them – from door to car, door to road, door to mailbox.  Windows, dark.  Always dark.


I slow.  No traffic here on this tar-smattered hardpan highway from the coldest corners of hell.

“Corners of hell.”  Yeah, hell’s got corners.  Hell, houses, bricks, belt buckles.  And kitchen counters, infamous for the bruising of school kids’ eyes.

I slow and there’s no movement in there.  Black windows.  A beer can shines in the yard.

Someday I’ll knock on the door, give a visit to the kid in there.  See how he’s doin’.  Give him a hi-five.  I push the accelerator.  Now, though, isn’t the time.  I’ve got to go.  I’ve got another corner to fill.