|Photo by Denise Low 2012|
LOOKING FOR THE GULF MOTEL
There should be nothing here I don't remember . . .
The Gulf Motel with mermaid lampposts
and ship's wheel in the lobby should still be
rising out of the sand like a cake decoration.
My brother and I should still be pretending
we don't know our parents, embarrassing us
as they roll the luggage cart past the front desk
loaded with our scruffy suitcases, two-dozen
loaves of Cuban bread, brown bags bulging
with enough mangos to last the entire week,
our espresso pot, the pressure cooker--and
a pork roast reeking garlic through the lobby.
All because we can't afford to eat out, not even
on vacation, only two hours from our home
in Miami, but far enough away to be thrilled
by whiter sands on the west coast of Florida,
where I should still be for the first time watching
the sun set instead of rise over the ocean. . . .
The poem continues for four stanzas with the refrain “There should be nothing here I don’t remember.” Blanco uses the conditional mood “should” throughout the poem, which works well in Spanish but usually not so well in English. He translates this effectively, so that by the end of the poem, his memories are both present and past: “I want to find The Gulf Motel exactly as it was/and pretend for a moment, nothing is lost.” Blanco successfully melds his two cultures (his parents are Cuban) as well as his two languages.