Every day, there was more furniture leaning between the culvert and the fence. One day, a brown leatherette sofa piled with embroidered pillows. The next, a heavy matching chair, white trash bags tossed against its bulky arms. A book case with warped shelves, empty of pages and covers.
Cleaning house, I thought.
It had been raining every day for a week and the pile kept getting bigger. More trash bags, tied tight with red plastic, tilting under the shadowy weight. A large grey radio with a crooked antenna.
By the end of the week, there was a small table and three wooden chairs. A crockpot was centered on the table, next to a green and yellow crocheted child’s blanket. A vacuum cleaner’s brushes rested on the drenched grass.
Then the toys started showing up. A stuffed pink camel. Small things on wheels. A baby carrier with a coral cushion and large plastic beads dripping with rain. A humidifier.
Next to the metal fence that encircled the big yard, something new. An iron bedstead, its headboard painted the soft salmon color of a summer peony. It was set apart, placed upright against the squares of the fence, drawing attention by the care of it.
I had an iron bedstead once. I found it hanging on a dark wall in an old tobacco barn, the farmer said he had no need of it, rusted and smoky as it was. Six dollars and you can take it, he said.
It was chinked with rust. I took a stiff brush to it, scraped and scraped but it still looked pocked even after all the pressure I could apply to it. I got tired of fooling with it, impatient to paint it and get it in my small room in the little house I was renting far out in the country. I was proud of my choice of sky blue paint. Underneath, the headboard looked scabbed with leftover layers of rough iron. I had taken the easy way out. The scars of the bed’s past stayed that way for years.
The iron on the pink bed was smooth, cleared of age and rust. The paint wasn’t chipped. Care had been taken.
I couldn’t imagine leaving that pink bed to the elements like that. I kept the blue bed for years. It chipped the whole time. Just like the marriage. When I left, in a hurry and in secret, that blue iron frame went into the U-Haul with me. I was back in a small rented place, in a city this time. I threw a blanket with a geometric design over it and called it freedom.
But this abandoned bed haunted me. So smooth and pastel. Careful in its place against the fence, in the rain.
And in my head, I heard “There but for the Grace.”
There but for the Grace.
I willed myself to look away. And then I looked back against my will.
Grace is a thing with feathers and weights.