In color photographs, my childhood house looks fresh as an uncut sheet cake— pale yellow buttercream, ribbons of white trim squeezed from the grooved tip of a pastry tube. Whose dream was this confection? This suburb of identical, pillow-mint homes? The sky, too, is pastel. Children roller skate down the new sidewalk. Fathers stake young trees. Mothers plan baby showers and Tupperware parties. The Avon Lady treks door to door. Six or seven years old, I stand on the front porch, hand on the decorative cast-iron trellis that frames it, squinting in California sunlight, striped short-sleeved shirt buttoned at the neck. I sit in the backyard (this picture's black-and-white), my Flintstones playset spread out on the grass. I arrange each plastic character, each dinosaur, each palm tree and round "granite" house. Half a century later, I barely recognize it when I search the address on Google Maps and, via "Street view," find myself face to face— foliage overgrown, facade remodeled and painted a drab brown. I click to zoom: light hits one of the windows. I can almost see what's inside.
Copyright © 2010 by David Trinidad. Used with permission of the author.
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it, Lawns groomed in prose, with hardly a stutter. Lloyd hits the ball, and Lorraine fetches it. Mom hangs the laundry, Fred, Jr., watches it, Shirts in the clichéd air, all aflutter. Conformity caught here, nobody catches it. A dog drops a bone, another dog snatches it. I dreamed of this life once, Now I shudder As Lloyd hits the ball and Lorraine fetches it. A doldrum of leaky roofs, a roofer who patches it, Lloyd prowls the streets, still clutching his putter. Conformity caught here, nobody catches it. The tediumed rake, the retiree who matches it, The fall air gone dead with the pure drone of motors While Lloyd hits the ball, and Lorraine just fetches it. The door is ajar, then somebody latches it. Through the hissing of barbecues poets mutter Of conformity caught here, where nobody catches it. Lloyd hits the ball. And damned Lorraine fetches it.
From Against Romance by Michael Blumenthal, published by Viking Penguin, Inc. Copyright © 1987 by Michael Blumenthal. Used by permission of the author.