Perennial Drive

Laurie Saurborn Young

Fresh paint and new sod but still set all wrong: the park across the road goes too quickly under. You live in an ecotone, a co-worker sighs. Cut the boxwoods back — people will hide in there, the gardener says. My neighbor, Army back from a war, tells me my dog barks if someone gets close to the house. I don’t ask how they know. Blossoms blaze in orange along Ellerbee Creek. Always I am late for work. Three blocks away, my uncle grew up, my great-aunt died, and my sister pulled figs from broad leaves. I hang a birdfeeder in the mulberry & wake to see it covered by raccoons. A snarling knot, this ground is a hunted one. I pet the dog, who must be lonely, following me around. Tonight I pledge to never open the front door, but I do, to a man in a torn blazer selling an old bottle of detergent. From a van in the street, his friends wave, all smiles. I shake my head but there is no shaking behind it. Land of transitions, you go forever on — boring jobs, uncertain boundaries, dogs not saying what they see. You live in an ecotone, my co-worker sighs. But I want this to be where I want to be, living with a foot in prey and the other in hunter. Living with dusty drill bits and ten sets of curtains. With leftover pizza & no tarte tatin pan, with the overlapping nights never long enough to get all the sadness done. Buying the heaviest desk I can find, a woman walking by helps me drag it inside & I set it in a right angle because Happiness in a corner is a German saying & set all wrong, the sun never reaches in far enough. My air conditioner gives out in Durham’s first humid week. My boyfriend and I tangle in the car, his boot nearly kicking out the glass. Finding a pill in the floorboards, I consider grinding it down. The dire wolf come and gone, always I am late for work. Wrecked by Iraq, the veteran helps his grandfather up the steps. That we live in an ecotone is never something the old man will say. Waving to me, his hand shakes behind the wave, like an owl waiting in the mulberry for the last mouse to start for home. Three blocks away, I first ate huckleberry in a house now filled by strangers.

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