You’d think by now the house would be empty, but every Saturday she seems to have more to get rid of. When we moved into the neighborhood, she was putting out just one long rack of men’s clothing in the yard near the failing azalea bed, beautiful suits arranged by color, fresh from the cedar closet, dark suits nearly indistinguishable, like so many groomsmen posing in a row, each suit paired with a complementary shirt and tie, as if the bridal party had undressed in her front yard and hung their clothes up neatly and tagged them for sale. When only the clumsier styles remained, she supplemented them with ladies’ garments from her own closets and never stopped putting things out. We started seeing furniture, not chipped knick-knacks but big upholstered reading chairs and a queen-size bed of substantial manufacture, with linens and pillows, ready for napping or lovemaking there on the lawn beneath the Japanese maple. We only see what we can see from two doors down. Her stuff doesn’t interest us. She chats and makes change amiably with people she’s never met, but when she drags the remnants back into the empty house in the afternoon, it’s clear the effort has cost her. Why does she keep doing it, without a man to help? Today she’s brought the laundry from the house directly to the yard. She’s folding the crumpled clothing from the basket onto her little sale table. She’ll sell the table, too, for an offer, and the grass from the front yard as sod. A man with a shovel is digging up hosta. Everything must go: the underwear, the photo albums, boxes of signed Christmas cards and packets of old letters. By the time she’s ready to move on, she’ll have nothing left to pack.

Copyright © June 8, 2007 David Hodges