Neighbors

While my 12-year-old was turning cartwheels on the grass, I leaped over the fence last night into the cemetery and stepped between two enormous, fragrant hydrangeas, their blooms just beginning to brown and fade. My daughter followed me over the fence and turned a few cartwheels down the slope.

Spread over one of the highest points in the village, the cemetery’s view gazes down at the few streets of houses, the brook and river concealed in the foliage, and the rise of Buffalo Mountain across the way. From here, the village is small, cradled in the green-turning-to-gold-and-red forest which far outsizes the town.

All summer, we’ve begun to know the village’s patterns – how the traffic rises in the morning, ebbs off in the day, then rises again. How on warm evenings, certain porches fill with talking people or other folks simply sitting, watching the evening go down, phones glowing in their hands. Across the cemetery is a house often lit with the white twinkling lights like ours, and whoever lives there burns a campfire behind a fence of lilacs.

Late nights and early mornings, the darkness lies thickly through the slumbering town.

My daughter leaped back over the fence and stretched out her hand to hold the bouquet of blossoms I’d snatched, so I could jump over, too.

The home is the center of life. It is a refuge from the grind of work, the pressure of school, and the menace of the streets. We say that at home, we can “be ourselves.” Everywhere else, we are someone else. At home, we remove our masks.

– Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

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front door

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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