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Evening on Washington Street
by Marianne Szlyk

Walking where city blurs into suburb,
she sees yards of red roses
and orange lilies. Women her age
or older work in rich dirt
while grandchildren play.
Spanish phrases float
in the breeze around her.

Yet she smells nothing but the sweetness
of laundry detergent and fabric softener:
the choking purple fog of lavender grit.

Just off the path she rejected,
a green, peppery scent prevails.
There she could breathe deeply. But
she chose the known. She didn't
know where that path through woods
would have led her in twilight.

She knows the fog will dissolve
before she enters the square
and houses withdraw onto side streets.
She knows the white boxwood flowers
will smell like homemade soap,
cleansing the night as it falls.


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