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Looking for the Pink House

Ocean City, New Jersey

(After Richard Blanco poem)

There should be nothing here I don’t remember…

The pink house with pine paneling and a large masted ship on the wall

With a blinking light the grownups turn on after we go to bed,

Under which they sit clinking their highballs.

The bunkbeds filled with sunburnt children lying exhausted

A foot from the ceiling. Tired, but not too tired to crack the door

And watch the light blinking on the ship on the wall and

Wonder what is making the parents laugh so hard.

There should be nothing here I don’t remember…

The formica table, the seashell salt shaker, the clam shells filled with cigarette butts.

My aunt should be in the kitchen shaking salad dressing in a jar, laughing.

My cousin should be ordering us into a line along the road to the bakery where the woman behind the counter has flour in her hair and holds one finger up in front of us—

We have to wait my cousin says.

After thirteen hours in the Studebaker, the smell of salt water

when we stop, only five minutes from the house,

For my mother to put on her face and my brother and me to use the bathroom.

My other aunt and uncle should still be young newlyweds, not yet informed she is barren, not yet abandoned by the two boys they adopt.

My mother should be laughing and dressing up to go to the club in Atlantic City,

Secure in the belief we are the only children my father has sired.

My brother and I should be wriggling and squirming in the window of the portrait studio

on the boardwalk

As the artist paints a nonexistent pearl necklace around my five-year-old neck.

The cousins should be engineering whole cities and highways in the wet sand between high and low tide.

I should be floating on a raft, dangling my feet over the edge, watching the ripple of white approaching.

But I am not.

I am looking for the pink house and pretending for a moment that the family is still laughing.

About the Author

Celia Jeffries is the author of the award-winning novel BLUE DESERT. She is grateful to live, write and teach in the Pioneer Valley, the place the New York Times called the 'valley of the literate.'

1 Comment

Jul 08, 2022

Such a vivid depiction of the yearned-for and the remembered. Richard Blanco‘s evocative poetry has an inspiring effect on me as well.


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