Thursday, August 16, 2007


As a theme, I'm very interested in the idea of decay, of rot. I like images of rotting houses or boat sheds, or abandoned cars as metaphors. I'd love to write an entire novel about a city that just dissolves slowly over time (and not Venice :). But when that kind of decay is in your own neighborhood, butted up against your home, it truly lacks all the poetry of fiction.

One of our neighbors, the one whose fence we must walk past when we step out our sliding glass side-door to go around to the back yard, used to have a dog. This dog used to keep us up at night, for many, many months despite desperate please to both neighbor and animal control alike. They built a fence around their front yard, and let the dog hang out in front some of the time, and this seemed like progress. While the dog was there, the yard was basically a toilet for the beast. A real pleasure on a hot day, let me tell you. Then one day, the dog was simply gone. And what had begun as a shit pile turned into a garbage pile. I never realized how many broken part, unused items and generally useless crap could accumulate. But that's the nature of rot--once you invite it in, it takes over. If there's a small pile of stuff, it takes very little effort for this to become a big pile of stuff. Indeed, the pile in our neighbor's backyard began to grow. It grew and grew, and the wind began to carry items into our yard.

It drew, rather than flies, ants. Whole new thriving colonies that for the first time in over a year and a half, have found their way into our home.

Then the refuse began to spill over to the little enclosure out front, so that when you passed by on the street it looked as if the house was throwing up. Broken toys. A battered arm chair. Bric-a-brac-- parts of things that are difficult to identify in their partial-ness. I kept thinking it would go away, that this was some stage of spring cleaning--they had to get it out of the house first so it could be discarded first.

It did not go away. It only grew, and I stopped seeing the children outside at all. I believe the man, whom I have met on a couple occasions, does nothing but work and still does not make ends meet. It seems like a rough and trying existence made worse by drowning in their own stuff.

Today, on my way to work, I noticed glass all over the driveway- It could have been from a car window or the house window, I didn't really stop to assess. It glinted a good twenty feet away from the driveway into the street. I had to pick my way carefully through it. And four hours later, when I came home from work, there were three trucks parked in the driveway. The front lawn was spotless. There were workman standing in what now looked to be an empty room on the second story.

The question is, has the crap gone for good?



At 9:19 PM, Blogger Maryanne Stahl said...

I am taking this as a cautionary tale!


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