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236 Laurel Hill Dr., Burlington, VT
The ranch structure is the same, only the new coat of white with a mint 1968 Mercedes parked in the drive, minus the oil stains from our Burlington Tree Service trucks.
Somehow I thought their permanence …
This is what I fixate on and it never enters my mind the drive could have been paved over during these past fifteen years, but this haibun doesn't hold room for that kind of possibility. The scattered shale walkway is there. The sweeping windowboxes of red geraniums are new. I have to admit that I like the oak shutters—it's a nice touch.
Still, it's what's in the backyard that I drove 500 miles for. A pre-teen, long-legged girl with blond bangs pasted to her forehead, clutching a box of crayons, opens the screen door. Her mother is petite with auburn hair that cuts across her sharp jawline. Past their bodies is the kitchen breaching into the patio deck:
shoulder to shoulder—
men with walking sticks
Mrs. Tundle smiles, asks me if my parents knew so and so, and if they sold the house to the Gracies? I look at her and tell her that I was too young to remember details, try to tell her something. What can I say … that we didn't own, but rented. Burlington was one out of a dozen places, but our only suburbia, and for four years we gave it our best shot and failed.
The yard has been put to good use, a garden of lettuce, beanstalks, and chamomile. I cut past to the opposite side of the yard, leaning against the pine that once stood dwarfed outside my parents’ bedroom.
Sliding down, my knees in wet grass, breathing heavily, I look out into the dense trees that edge the property and try to identify her: my sycamore.
In the downpour, reeling from exhaustion and loss of perspective, I am certain that she is one of the trees that the Gracies cut down. I fold inward.
Standing up, expecting to walk back, I walk in, recognize my signature:
child’s garden hoe
marks the sycamore
what I couldn’t—
with a camera I document it all