This morning I went walking early – at that hour when, although light, the crickets still sing and birds fly low.

At a corner, I cross the street to stand where the spray of an in-ground sprinkler system will reach me. Four small black cylinders, inches off the earth, direct streams of water in long arcs that sweep the lawn in slow motion.

Like soldiers, hollow black square posts surround the house. An unfinished fence.

I wait near the street, where large, damp rocks separate grass from gravel. The water takes its time in arriving.

The far nozzle splatters first on a tree, then on one of the fence posts. In reply, the nozzle nearest me does likewise. The other two nozzles have only posts with which to make their music. The cadence is such that some nozzles are still replying while others have begun their next phrase.

The sound of the water hitting the posts is soft at first, increases in volume, then fades away. It is the sound of brushing metal, as if keys were being made in the next room.

The water reaches me finally. A few drops, then a rush, then a parting pat-pat.

As I walk away, the sound follows.

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