Thursday, November 09, 2006

Just Stuff

More voter irregularities and ugly politicing--read how homeless people were coerced into representing a Republican candidate as a Democrat (thanks for this link, Don):

The elderly woman who lives across the street from me has put her house up for sale. Last week a moving van pulled up and I saw her standing there, very small and lost, watching the van pull away. Later that day, a Century 21 sign went up. Since then I haven't seen her, but have watched pieces of her life being examined by interested buyers. They pull up and read the color flyer. Dumpsters have come and gone, and gardeners have trimmed her vegetation. There is a young couple peeking around her premises as I type this. Their realtor drives a gold Cadillac, and they stand in the driveway in earnest conversation. Now they look toward my house and point around the neighborhood. I'm sad to see the old woman go--she's a writer and has this great east-coast accent. A few years ago her cranky husband passed away, and she's seemed sort of unleashed since then. Here's a prose poem I wrote about her:


When Agnes across the street gets a ride somewhere, she’s greeted by prolonged honks that bully her feeble frame out the door. Nearly every day it’s either the burgundy Buick Rendezvous, the gold Chevy Malibu, the dial-a-ride bus, or occasionally a cab (her splurge) summoning impatiently, let’s go lady!

Merle never let her drive his black Cadillac, proclaiming her hand-eye coordination inferior. When he died last year, she initiated her emancipation by unloading that car along with the cocker spaniel Merle used to fondly lead around on a ribbony pink leash. A former marine sergeant, Merle would report Agnes’ shortcomings as they strolled, periodically tugging at the dress socks that slunk down his angular calves. Agnes would mope along behind them, chastised, her head parallel to the sidewalk.

But after Merle’s wake we noticed her out more, registering the amplification of her presence, as if she’d been charged overnight—a diminutive lady-Prius. Her liberated smile reflected up and down the street. That’s when the reveille began. She bought something from all of us at the annual Four Seasons Homeowner’s Association Garage Sale—an astrology primer, commemorative bicentennial shot glasses, a bedside reading lamp—giddy-drunk with her own permission to do so, tossing out her dollars and quarters like confetti.

Agnes refuses to leave her 2,500 square foot house for a smaller place. The aqua paint has faded like her hair, but the small porch out front is adorned with valiant flowers in terra cotta pots. She hobbles like a wounded wren, scooting out the garbage cans midday every Thursday—although we’ve all offered to do it for her.

Several months back I noticed a robed man plucking at her landscaping. I phoned a neighbor, “there’s a man poking around Agnes’ front yard.” Then he reached for a newspaper and headed for the open front door. Agnes, it appeared, had taken up with someone.

I ran into her last August as she walked to the community pool, startling at my reflection in her bottle-fly sunglasses. She wore flip-flops with plastic daisies, pedals spread over her pruny toes. A Ralph Lauren one-piece under a terrycloth cover-up cradled her drooping breasts and falsely pregnant-belly. She lifted the glasses with a gnarled index finger, looked me in the eye and declared that she’d pre-paid her pool dues for ten years, had nine more left! Then she laid a bat-wing hand on my arm and asked if I’d join her sometime.

About a week ago the customary Agnes-honks rang with an insistent urgency accompanied by an ominous churning engine. Outside we saw the hulking red of an emergency vehicle, which instigated a concerned surge of us across the street. Grinning when she saw our clutch, she mocked our meddlesome concern: “You all thought I’d died, didn’t you?”


At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

owww...anges is moving???? doesn't she know she's your muse? -----Mere


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