The first thing happens like this:
I’m working in the yard
when a stranger walking down the street
stops to ask if he can get a drink
from my garden hose.
I ask him to wait
and go inside (locking
the door behind me–I’m
kind, not stupid) to
fetch him some iced water
in a disposable plastic cup.
He gratefully accepts
the drink he seems to really need
and continues walking
wherever he’s walking to.
It’s all good, but a little weird,
and a sign of things to come.
Later, I’m riding my bike
when a woman in a van sitting
in the middle of the street beckons.
I stop, remove an earbud;
she says she’s honking to get
her son to to come out of the house,
but he’s not hearing. Will I
go to the door and knock? She
can’t get out because her dog
would run away, and by the way,
she’s in a wheelchair. So I go and bang
on the front door, then the side door,
then the back door, and get absolutely
no response. That’s all that
I can do. As I pedal off,
she pulls back into the driveway
and leans hard on the horn.
I have errands to run, and
traffic’s crazy: people texting,
driving blind; driving twenty-five
and straddling the lane divider–
surely not drunk at ten a.m.?–
gliding past stop signs, omitting signals.
Some dude passes me on the right
doing forty-five in a thirty-five,
then darts back in without a signal
and cuts me off, nearly clipping
both me and the car in the other lane.
I honk and finger my displeasure;
despite his former hurry, he takes time
to stop and return the gesture after
turning off on a side street.
I’m passing a house in the neighborhood
and see some dude pacing angrily in the yard.
Over my music, with the windows closed
and A/C cranked, I hear him yelling,
loudly and repeatedly, “I hate you
fucking sorry-ass people,” though
I see no one else around.
Lunch at my favorite cafe,
but things are a little off.
It closed early yesterday for
improvements to the kitchen;
they’re hiring for all positions
(though most of the old staff’s
staying on as well); and
there’s a bit of chaos. The salad
is good but slightly different,
my coffee never arrives.
When I re-order, the iced one’s
tasty but not really cold;
a manager’s walking around
trying to figure out
who ordered an unclaimed sandwich.
At the park, the ducks just
sit still in a shady spot.
Back home, my cat goes
out at nine, melts into the lawn.
All day, everyone’s been on edge,
the animals restless too,
and now bugs everywhere.
At ten p.m., it’s still ninety-three
degrees, humid, with not much wind;
there’s lightning in the clouds,
but so far no rain. Sitting on the porch,
I hear siren after siren,
and now the weather radio’s
blaring into action every couple of minutes.
Against my better judgment,
I pour another glass of wine.
If the heat doesn’t break tonight,
I’ll be afraid to face tomorrow.
T. Allen Culpepper