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03 Jul 2003 / 12:59 a.m.
.:  backlight

yesterday afternoon:

dragging sprinklers from patch of parched bluegrass to the juniper tree, i am blindsided by my half-naked neighbor.

he is an old local; a perpetual porch man. from his cracked concrete steps he watches endless traffic, curing in the sun, windburnt, axle-greased, dry-drunk. he is a weathervane, a heliotrope, an ancient barometer ticking off seasons like the farmer's almanac. he is facing me, telling me about God. i don't know where this is coming from, so i listen.

he tells me that god lets him wallow. he says, "yup, god sits up there and laughs at old john, laughs at me ya see: 'can't do it your way, john...gotta do it mine.' oh boy, but i don't listen i reckon, nope, so's i keep wallowing, steada leavin god's business to him, reckon." i nod. he is a tiny man in loud shorts.

his potbelly shines with sweat and hosewater. tight scars from old wallowing lay in long arcs arcoss the baked bean hemisphere of his waist. his eyes are blue and confused, inky pinpoint pupils at the center of his big "what?" question face. he smells like bacon grease, sweat, and gold-bond powder.

then he tells me about dope dealers, niggers, spics, and other trash coming to the city, his town, goddammit. pushing into his space, he says. then he tells me about being an american. how we ought to mop up them arabs. teach them a lesson. he smiles big, turning his question mark face upside down, then the sour frown is back.

he tells me more things, but i don't remember what he said, just that he was backlit by sunlight and rainclouds.

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