When I wake up, I look through the window to see our yard glowing silver with dew. Cool, damp air washes into the room. House sparrows nibble seeds from the weeds growing along our chain-link fence.
The neighbor down the street, a skeletal woman in her fifties, bangs on my door at eight in the morning, asking for money to buy blood pressure meds for her grandma. I’ve helped her in the past, which is why she often treks to my doorstep in search of cash, or, occasionally, carrots. I have no cash today, I say, I’m sorry, and I really am. She breathes a prayer through her blackened teeth and runs off to call urgent care.
Later I see her grandma sitting on her front porch, her back a hunch, her stringy gray hair hanging loose. Her dark eyes, almost hidden in the wrinkles of her face, watch the breeze stir the oak leaves.
Our neighbor to the south sits on her back porch with her teenaged son, both smoking cigarettes, the rank scent carried on the wind. We smile and wave.
A kid from the trailer park down the block rides his bike along the road, listlessly.
Two doors down, an elderly man with large wrap-around sunglasses hobbles from his house, moving with slow deliberation to the edge of his victory garden, where he inspects the tomatoes. Styrofoam plates, tied loosely to stakes in the garden, flutter in the breeze to deter birds.
The sun clears the roof of our garage, sucking up the dew with its brutal rays, the last gasp of summer. A flock of sparrows burst from our yard and head toward the river.
Our neighbor to the north yells at her Great Dane mutt, who is tearing across the neighbors’ front lawns.
Across the street, dump trucks lumber through the industrial yard fenced with chain link. The edges of the lot are alive with dandelions. Someday, I think, that yard will turn into a bunch of condos.
The gentleman across the street, who’s lived there with his wife for 53 years, limps to his black truck, taking his daily drive to to walk laps around the mall. We wave at each other.
The neighbor catty-cornered to us, a young man with hipster glasses, rushes out of his house with a baby carrier in tow.
A man from the next block saunters down the alley, eyeing the neighbor’s apple tree hungrily.
The pit bull mutt two doors down is having a barking contest with the Airedale terrier across the street. After a few minutes they become bored and give up.
A neighbor from down the block drives a vintage car, its old-fashioned race car body yellow with a black roof. He parks it at another neighbor’s garage and they chat. Later they’ll meet up again to drink beer, crank out loud music, and talk football.
An old man with a long grizzled beard clomps down the sidewalk, his skinny legs pumping methodically. He wears a fake sunflower tucked into his hat.
A person in an SUV pulls up to the intersection by our house, and starts to turn right, before freaking out and realizing she has to turn left because of the one-way street.
I hear a clattering in the alley and see a man with a stocking cap and small glasses. He is here every week before trash day, opening each recycling bin. He picks out the aluminum cans, smashes them, and tosses them into his black garbage bag to sell for pennies. Then he carefully rolls the bins back in place.
The sun has dipped behind the hill to the west, and nighthawks, with their slender barred wings, wheel overhead in the sky. The sunset glow backlights the sycamore across the street, and I crouch by my garden, absently picking spikes of creeping fescue from the soil. The carrots have sprouted. The ground is still warm to the touch.
The sky fades from flax to denim. Zach will be home soon.