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  • Something rang true to me about Sarah Alderman's
    BYPASSED, The Coatesville Project
    and it wasn't just her words


    my offering:

    maybe it was the smell of the eucalyptus trees in the fog
    the smell of damp mildew in the pool house
    the camellia’s blooming on the side of the house
    or the azalea’s that never grew higher than knee height
    it was the leaves rustling in the trees
    the upstairs window that looked out into a fog so thick
    I’d wait for it to rise but it only got thicker, then darker

    there was a Chinese take out place down on the corner
    mom and pop cooked the Chinese food in the back
    while the two daughters would alternate taking orders in English.
    3 number two dinners with a side of fried spareribs and pork fried rice.
    the daughters would bark the order to the back in Chinese
    I’d sit and wait in a cramped little alcove.
    The girl was only three years ahead of me in school.
    She was always studying from her textbooks when I came in.
    I always thought she must be a genius.

    I’d carry the Chinese food past the corner gas station-
    forever in a gas war with the station across the street
    past the old witches house. the old woman who would squirt us with a hose simply for being kids in front of her house.
    past my first true love’s house, Hank. He could really push a hand lawn mower.
    past the Poseley’s house with Mrs. Poseley’s baking wafting through the kitchen window.
    past the house with the grape trellis: pity, they never seemed to be home, such good grapes.
    Mrs Kravitzes house that housed all the old ladies. One old lady would occasionally invite me in for a cookie out of her stale cookie tin.
    Mrs Kravitiz was the one who cared for all the little sick birds in the neighborhood. Until she asked me not to bring them anymore.
    past the Svitaks house with their large expanse of yard with a boxwood hedge. Vicki Svitak was my best friend.
    she was two years older and went to Catholic school.she was a bad influence my parents didn’t want me to be around.
    I’d run and jump over that two foot high boxwood hedge that separated our two properties to go play at Vicki’s house.

    Finally, my house on the corner with the large pine and four eucalyptus trees in the front yard.
    I’d watch from the French window as the old white Chevy station wagon would pull up on the side and my mom got out and
    carried groceries into the house. she worked late and takeout was a god send.
    then my dad in his old ford pickup with the manual transmission would
    sojourn on the side street and my world would be all about getting a hug and hearing stories.
    The stories about who came into the pottery shop today and how he had to deliver a cement fountain
    to Jack la Lanes house and install it. But Jack wouldn’t even give him a hand unloading it off the truck.
    How my mom was delighted when Vincent Price came into her shop. He was always such a gentleman.
    These stories were overheard in the hallway, away from the kitchen, away from the parents eyes.
    While they’d sip on Early Times Bourbon and slowly retreat to where grown ups go, where little kids aren’t allowed.
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