Late April 2023
Across the street, the Garza’s dogwood
has popped, all snowy white, like confetti
bobbling but not falling
against its background of green and brown.
Mr. Garza couldn’t know
last winter when he startled me
trudging up my driveway
after taking out the trash
in the ice-pellet dark.
“GOD FUCKING DAMMIT!!!!!”
A mob of giant rats grappling?
No, Mr. Garza on his knees
fumbling bottles and cans as they clank
from a ripped garbage bag—
a gooey spill of kitchen sludge
punctuating a cacophony
of incongruously hissed curses
under that dogwood’s cold skeleton.
I had never, until then, heard
Mr. Garza say anything, not even hi.
But he’d wave back, and almost smile—
fat Mr. Garza, in his plaid, fur-lined
hunter’s cap and rubber galoshes
heaving out of his Hyundai
that he always backed into
his appliance cluttered garage
I guess to blast off all the faster
each morning before sunup
toward whatever hellhole
was his job.