Dream House
SuzAnne C. Cole

A draghoe ate the candy-pink house next door. One early afternoon last week, a yellowy mouth grinning with metallic teeth stretched forth at the end of an impossibly long neck and nibbled daintily on the roof. Then it spat that out, moved along the ridge line to another spot, and sampled it, spewing it out too. Where, I wondered, was Brenda? Why wasn't she angrily confronting this giant Hansel? For forty years or more she had lived here as young wife, mother, secretary, then widow and retiree. Gladly she welcomed newcomers like us to the neighborhood, planted flowers, watched her cat sunbathe on the porch, celebrated birthdays with coffee and cake. She cherished her property and her home. Yet, she must have left yesterday, or last week, or last month. I never noticed.

The draghoe bit huge chunks at random, first the front wall, now the side, vomiting splintered lumber, shreds of tarpaper, torn shingles, shattered glass, intestines of copper piping and electrical wiring into a growing midden. In less than thirty minutes, a pretty pink bungalow was garbage, nothing anyone could ever again claim as home. A sea-blue dump truck backed onto the lot; collaborating with the draghoe, it tidied away the heap of debris. Four hours later, a workman in rubber boots strewed quicklime on the scoured, lifeless lot.

Then came the new owners, inspecting, rejoicing in the destruction. Not mourning the past, they dreamed of the future: rutted, sunken lot graded flat and smooth, foundation poured, framing erected, sheet rock stapled and taped, soon a two-story brick Georgian stretching lot line to lot line, shouldering up to its equally impressive neighbors, filling in the block like a porcelain bridge. Impossible for them to think that their dream house, not yet built, may in turn become another family's garbage, bulldozed itself to feed our rapacious appetite for progress, newness. Perhaps they should talk to Brenda.

(We live ten minutes from downtown Houston in a neighborhood originally developed just before WWII. As property this close to town has grown increasingly valuable, I have watched the scene described in this piece many, many times. —SuzAnne C. Cole)

(SuzAnne C. Cole, a Houstonian since l972, has published books, essays, poetry, plays, and fiction in many commercial and literary magazines, newspapers, and anthologies including Newsweek, Houston Chronicle, USA Today, Troika, Personal Journaling, and Writing Your Life Story. She also wrote To Our Heart's Content: Meditations for Women Turning 50.)

~ .

Two-Stepping at Blanco's
SuzAnne C. Cole

Line-dancing at a C & W bar—
hustle, two-step, cotton-eyed joe,
long necks and honky-tonk tunes,
stiff stetson, pressed jeans,
sweating beside his quick-footed
wife, he pumps bent arms,
tangles slick boots
on the cross-over,
retreating when the line
advances, he stumbles,
glances backwards,
starts again.

Music quickening,
line moving faster,
he struggles to keep up,
can't, gyrates off in
a dance of his devising—
awkward off-beat shuffle.

Leaving the line, his wife
grins, hooks her arm
in his and off they spin—
three-stepping the
improvisational dance
of a marriage.

(Prior publ.: Texas Poetry Calendar 1999)