The road out front is all torn up and has remained that way for a long time. One day they 
tractor-pulled the trunk of a fallen tree, its roots undone by the doings. Saw crews came in 
and buzzed for days like a disturbed hive. I could not save the flowers. Pyramids of pipe plastic 
appeared overnight. Rats, unsettled, bounced across the lawns, appalling the cats. 
All's ditches, trenches, ruts and pits. A week before the phones went dead, the sand trucks 
jilted their loads, shovels clanged, someone shouted Ho! ho! ho! like an unjollied Santa. Yellow 
cones mark off the area like quarantine. Red lights flash night and day. Goodness! The whole 
country detours around us. Each morning a colony of hardhats I observe from my upstairs window, 
handkerchief held to my nose, my ears stoppered with cotton and wax. Today, they were 
burning debris and circled the fire prodding like scouts.  I regret I cannot make the ceremony, 
but clearly this is a major public project with extensive resources at its disposal and certain 
to benefit enormous numbers. It must be.  I pray the food will last and look forward to vast 
and permanent improvement.

From Curious Conduct by Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Copyright © 2004 by BOA Editions, Ltd. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. All rights reserved.