Broken Water

He puttered away.

Her tide of tears like broken water fell,
salting the zinnias
while he stood behind her
talking to air.

Backpedaling through the corners of his muttering mouth,
he changed his story,
sputtering through earlier accusations
of trespassing,
of scaring the neighbor,
of police call threats.

She began to unravel.
Letting him know she’d look into it.
Letting him know she’d talk to the village police herself.
Letting him know she’d verify his bullshit story with the neighbor.
Her shoulders heaved.

Upstairs, her husband slept
as she defended his character
to this tottering fool who stopped by
to spread his own form of bitter
ill will.

His red golf cart puttered toward her
already tensing form.

She relished releasing earth’s scent
when she bedded her zinnias, dreaming
of their blooms.

Brenda Warren 2016

Notes: The NaPoWriMo prompt asks that we tell a story backwards, and Elizabeth provided a word list that got me started on this piece. A bit more prosy than poetic, each stanza of this piece represents a moment in time, not each line, as the NaPo prompt suggested.

This story happened to me two days ago, when I was planting some flowers at the base of a large boulder in our front yard. I was feeling extremely homesick for Montana, and know that gardening will deepen my connection with our place here in Ohio. My homesickness was abating when this little old man stopped to brighten my day. We have been here for almost a year, and we have a new neighbor across the field. The little old man backpedaled enough that I know his story is filled with holes. He absolutely did not want us to verify anything with anybody. The last thing I said to him was “Why do we have a target on our backs with you?” He started sputtering. I turned my back with my floodwaters flowing and continued to plant. He left. Such a lovely morning.


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