Not a study or a den, but El Florida as my mother called it, a pretty name for the room with the prettiest view of the lipstick-red hibiscus puckered up against the windows, the tepid breeze laden with the brown-sugar scent of loquats drifting in from the yard. Not a sunroom, but where the sun both rose and set, all day the shadows of banana trees fan-dancing across the floor, and if it rained, it rained the loudest, like marbles plunking across the roof under constant threat of coconuts ready to fall from the sky. Not a sitting room, but El Florida where I sat alone for hours with butterflies frozen on the polyester curtains and faces of Lladró figurines: sad angels, clowns, and princesses with eyes glazed blue and gray, gazing from behind the glass doors of the wall cabinet. Not a TV room, but where I watched Creature Feature as a boy, clinging to my brother, safe from vampires in the same sofa where I fell in love with Clint Eastwood and my Abuelo watching westerns, or pitying women crying in telenovelas with my Abuela. Not a family room, but the room where my father twirled his hair while listening to 8-tracks of Elvis, and read Nietzsche and Kant a few months before he died, where my mother learned to dance alone as she swept, and I learned Salsa pressed against my Tía Julia’s enormous breasts. At the edge of the city, in the company of crickets, beside the empty clothesline, telephone wires and the moon, tonight my life is an old friend sitting with me not in the living room, but in the light of El Florida, as quiet and necessary as any star shining above it.
from Looking for The Gulf Motel, by Richard Blanco, c 2012.
All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.
Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Richard Blanco (1968- ) was the fifth U.S. inaugural poet. He is the author of three poetry collections, including Looking for The Gulf Motel (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).