The Neighborhood


The wind grows furious as the grounds
around my house sicken. My neighbor’s
been pointing at a tree bordering our
properties with a gash down its trunk.
All I wanted to know was the direction
it may fall since the town said it stands
a few feet out of their jurisdiction.
I noticed my neighbor and the others
waiting for me to finance and preparing
their fire pits. So, when the winds began
their violent removal of limbs, perhaps
God desired patience. Even the birds
flew cautious. I watched them place domes
atop their nests. Still, the neighbors took
their walks in reflective yellows and
extended leashes since their dogs are
all aquatinted. My boy, his mornings
in the window, on the back of the sofa,
like recon, which is debriefed once
the sun sets and the house settles. Even if
the winds die, he’d rather mosey the
fence line. I knew when the seller sent
his photos that he’d be a father’s boy
with all the always constantly looking
over his shoulders and no desire to
trail off from home. He doesn’t care
that we’re never invited to join in on
flashlighted walks at dusk or sit
around one of the pits to talk about
the weather– such a time as this, how
the wine is crisp, the cheese is smooth.
I listened from my kitchen window, and
one said that this gathering was in honor
of Spring. I couldn’t stop watching their
shoes and wondering of their children,
where they were. And before the storm,
when I’d let my dog out, they all would
say his name at once, and if I were to go
out and pick up after him, they’d greet
me alike. To be fair, I don’t know any
of their names, so perhaps it’s me and
not them. Then, that might please them,
how that I believe it’s me and not them.
So, it can’t be them making me think it’s
them. Perhaps it’s my brown skin overthinking
things again. I didn’t bring enough
bags for all the backyard shit. It’s been
two days, and I’m trying to maintain these
things. So, the other day when I was on
the roof, counting all the cracks, I started
on the gutters. While I was doing gutters,
I noticed the neighborhood doing gutters,
trimming hedges, mowing lawns, thumbing
weeds, rocking back and forth on their heels,
bouncing lightly on the balls of their feet.

Aaron Banks is a poet from Rochester, New York, and a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He is nearing completion of his first book of poems, Cottonwood Man, and can be contacted via email.
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