Neighbors

“Morning is a clear house,
afternoon a wardrobe.” – D. Bonta

With her auburn hair turning to rusted
grey, Mrs. D. did not ever feel she belonged.
No matter what the season, she insisted
on wearing dark brown skirts that billowed
like canvas sails; often, we wondered if
they were repurposed from some pioneer wagon—
It was the first thing we saw of her on the rise
marking the end of the street, when she returned
from market. Don’t be silly, said Martina the maid.
No one can be that old today. At half past seven
every morning, Judge C. walked past. He always
dressed in white; only his hatband gleamed a dull
shade of gold, matching his wedding ring. I didn’t
know the name of the tenants in the apartment
next door: only that the husband had Parkinson’s—
his head rattled like a musical gourd at the end
of a stick. Mrs. S. raised flowers in her back-
yard, white and fuschia phaleonopsis, moth
orchids. Sometimes she came out and absently
touched the cascade of blooms, late at night,
when we rushed to our windows afraid
of the drunken commotion and screams from four
houses down: G.’s husband throwing her against
the furniture, their boarder R., our town’s first
policewoman on the force rushing to intervene,
though hardly anyone respected her badge or uniform.

 

In response to Via Negativa: House of the rising sun .

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