A trio of tired old neighbors with sagging scrotums stand
together on a front lawn silhouetted against a pale blue sky
taking a break from gardening chores.

Limp arms cling to Durasharp Loppers, tremulous hands place a string
weedwacker trimmer to rest, while the third with an arthritic back,
plops into his poly-tough cart with a Makita sawzall on his lap.
The quietness offers a radical confrontation with oneself.
In a communal space of tranquility, the street becomes
a wilderness of mirrors.

They listen to the silence as never before, vowing to keep each other
kind. They look like the painting of the “Vinegar Tasters,” Confucius,
Lao Zi and the Buddha.

They wonder where the kids have all gone; after college they all
disappear. They gossip about the house that’s on sale by the neighbor
who trusted Madoff, who made off with his lifetime of savings.

One has a Medal of Honor from the Second World War
on the plate on his car. He asks what happened to the Viet Nam vet
who had a “Recon 2” medallion on his vintage Land Rover?

The others report an ambulance came twice in one day and they wonder if
the bacchanal barrel of beer cans and bottles of gin in his recycle bin may have
finally done him in.

Only what cannot be said is worth saying they reluctantly concur. They return
inch by inch to the quieting ritual of work on a pot-pourri of lilacs and maple trees,
helping them to endure the hemorrhaging calumny, accepting whatever is, is.