Out doing the morning watering,
I notice the plain white van with out-of-state plates
circling my block, turning around, backwarding and forwarding,
finally stopping two doors down.
My suspense building, I can’t help watching closely
while pretending absorption in my gardening task.
And finally, slowly, the driver’s door opens,
and out climbs a woman, spry, but of a certain age,
in an old-fashioned floral housedress
of the kind my grandmother would have worn,
and longish grey hair pulled back
into a simple ponytail.
Pulling on a pair of spring-green rubber gloves,
she bends forward and gets right to work,
her ballooning bloomers showing from behind,
lifting large decorative rocks from my neighbor’s flower bed
and loading them into the van.
I know the activity must have been authorized,
because I think my neighbor might have mentioned
re-doing the bed, and both of her cars are home,
and only the most incompetent of thieves
would have approached her work so slowly and obviously;
and anyway, she often issues odd invitations.
As I turn off the water and re-coil the hose,
the rock-taking strikes me as just the sort of project
that such a woman, having made up her mind,
would undertake early on a Sunday morning
in August at its hottest.
T. Allen Culpepper