1: A New Development If anything, the afternoon is slanted. The tree-work filtering ultraviolet rays ambers the houses. Ivy along the base, rustling skirts, pantyhose. Groundcover. Don’t uncover yourself one stitch. Girls barefoot in black leotards, their bodies plastic, bendable as they perform in the yard. Stutter of a lawnmower kicking up sticks. Snapdragons with their cheeks caved in. If anything is shrieking, it’s the blue-jays. Blood-copper ripeness of overturned dirt. The back door is open— 2: Anatomy of a House Insulation is the fat, which is why the system retains its heat and stabilizes. The floor wooden and even, the skin the wallpaper, the applied layers of neutral paint. Cellular structure, layout, the bedroom brainpan. Compartments for all the fragile objects. The heart the kitchen—polished granite counters, stainless steel fixtures. Two-by-fours for support. Inner guts: copper wires, fuses, flushable pipes. The furnace’s belly rumbles. A house exhales its own indoor weather, circulation, the flow of dependent organisms. Room to grow, room for living. 3: The Setup English Tudor was the style, Colonial the preferred one. Victorian the one to envy, the staircase spilling into a grand foyer entrance. On streets named with bias—Ottekee, Edinburgh, Oxford, Forest View. A house is as good as the woman who keeps it. Market value, neighborhood watch. Think prepackaged, some assembly required. As in the cosmetics of it—curb appeal. Shaker shingles, brass knocker, decorative seasonal flags. Wealth by number of garage doors, by number of kids you can accommodate. Spacious vanity. Six-paneled doors for privacy, double-paned windows for a view—selective, staying. 4: Pre-Spring in the Affluent Neighborhood The sun shines down equally on the houses, shadows fastened to tree-limbs. The streets are quiet, almost vacant. A father yawns as he pushes his daughter along on a bike, pink and purple streamers, the little hearts patched on her knees go up and down with such concentration. She seems to be the only thing that moves. Shades are drawn. It is winter still, everything is closed up, the opening comes on so slowly. Even the earth movers have stopped digging out another foundation. The hole is nothing like a deep grave, instead it will be filled with concrete, boards, and bricks to house some other family and their truckload of things. Child, don’t stop now, keep pedaling. There is so much, and if you turn your head, there is much more.