Thursday, April 7, 2011


It is quite possible that this neighborhood
is simply as it looks. There are no deep secrets
behind the manicured lawns and staid facades.
Families go to church on Sunday, or synagogue

on Friday, or perhaps neither. There are no
desperate housewives succumbing to seduction,
no men cheating on trips to Atlanta and New Jersey. 

Those people live elsewhere. 

No children are abused and most arguments
between husbands and wives are at least
tenuously resolved. That is not to say everything
is perfect. There is grief and heartache, pain and

illness; the couple who just moved in down the
street will almost certainly end badly. Their
children too often seem sad and subdued. 

There is no difference in the blends of grasses 
that comprise our lawns; each house is
equidistant from the next. There are no borders.
(Secretly I wonder at the protocol of lawn care;

on one side I benignly mow a two-foot patch
of the neighbor's lawn--silly not to, really--
and yet fail to do so for the neighbor opposite.
It could be that as they each drink their morning

coffees, they look out their windows, perplexed.)

We attack the relentless, entropic growth with
helicopter-blade mowers and indiscriminate rotors,
odorous chemicals, shovel, and hoe; sad
testament to the extravagant efforts required

simply to maintain appearances. 

—Martin A. Bartels

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