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Cathy Barber

This is a neighborhood of war streets-
Trenton, West Point, Lexington,
Bunker Hill, Yorktown, Forge.
Here sprinklers fight desiccation.
Brown needles, tinderbox hills, crackling grass.

Suburban, no view of
neighbors in driveways after work.
No outdoor chores,
just weekday Latino crews
with rackety leaf blowers and floppy hats.

This area was wild.
Once there was a fawn cuddled up
next to the house, no doe in sight.
Opossums, raccoons and skunks
owned the back yard, peered through
the doors, tiny paws quivering.
Coyotes yammered in the canyon.

Evenings, deer galloped up Lexington,
charged up Tarrytown, took each hill,
destroyed flowers in watered yards—
white and pink impatiens, azaleas.

The coyotes live beyond the highway now,
its tall steel bridge of rumbling autos
that separates humans from open space.
The land preserved but for the paved trail,
and the fence to keep us from reaching the reservoir,
from dipping our cupped hands
into that expanse of water and
taking drink after drink.
From skipping stones and scaring ducks
just for fun.

Or crossing, near the three-mile mark,
late in the summer when the last rain was months ago,
the water thoroughly defeated
and a land bridge appears slowly,
like invisible ink heated by a flame.

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