suburban anthem
the dashboard vinyl was once a rich healthy-soil brown. years of attrition by solar rays made it desaturated, an imitation of cracked desert. the television shows us a land where pale smiles and blemish-free faces radiate permanent-press colors, emblematic of the periphery of a wheezing, aged city. cracked polyvinyl siding falls into an unclipped rose garden where children once buried the casualties of playtime battles between plastic factions. this is a place to which people take flight, where the electronic doorbell now rings two tones instead of four, a place where those whose souls have died wait for the body to catch up. the foundation has slipped due to tremors and liquefaction. it was built on weak land, eschewed by geologists, rancheros, and native tribes. paved freeway slabs split under seeping water and sun and the weight of eighteen-wheelers and commuters. in morning, they flow to the towers of the city which inhales their breath and collects their sweat, draining it into the river. pipes in the walls have corroded, belching forth rusted water and pockets of air, rattling and moaning in feeble death-throes. we always believed we were immune to boiling our water, or a capful of bleach to the gallon.

©1999 Timothy A. Clark