20 practice

once upon a time a man with a filigree beard was raking leaves
i stubbornly approached him in crooked roller skates
i caught myself on his peeling picket fence
making a hangman’s noose with my winter scarf I blurted

is that something an old man like you should be doing?

he shrugged violently and swung his torso to his house
he exhaled a sewing needle, rang the doorbell
his old wife clamoured out of the art deco style door
she wore an impatient floral dress with a toad green apron

old men rake, old ladies watch old men rake
her hands on her hips, a sour wrinkle around each eye
I ruined their day. Their children were probably far far far away

I apologize

they both chuckled like the horses pulling a chariot
i had a deep respect for the two of them
a deep temptation made me want to enter their lawn
it smelled like perfection, only grown through years of practice
and a hint of happiness? an aroma of sage

inconsolable opera stars wafted through the open window
kitschy kitchen knick knacks stacked over the oven
shake and quake next to the Shake and Bake

a humble lifestyle lived by humble old people
a jealousy too overwhelming for me
I placed my noosed scarf over my neck
the other end was clumsily tied to the fence
I let go and rolled backwards downhill into traffic

a picturesque american gothic faded from my eyes
i could never achieve what they achieved


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