Thursday, March 18, 2010

60 Corona Road

My dislike of picnic tables
started at 60 Corona Road,
my uncle's house in New Jersey,
which butts up against the turnpike
where he spent his working life.
We were there in the heat of summer
--I must have just turned eight --
passing through on our way
to our annual family vacation:
a week in sunny Florida
(a special treat, for us midwesterners,
to frolic at the beach).

And while the cars and trucks roared by
beyond my uncle's fence,
I remember playing Crazy Eights
with my cousins at their picnic table,
feeling dizzier,
and dizzier;
so jarred by heat and unaccustomed noise
that up felt just like down to me.
And hot? So hot!
Hotter even than the sun
that had my mother sweating
in that dotted shirtwaist dress she wore to hide her bulging thighs.
In the end I slipped off the table, felled by a raging fever
and they rushed me to the doctor, to discover I had measles.

I spent that week in Florida
playing cribbage with my dad,
seated at a picnic table
indoors, in a darkened room
of a moldy turquoise bungalow
while mom simmered on a beach towel,
down by the ocean,
steaming in her navy swimsuit
with its little nylon skirt.
Picnic tables still make me feel a little queasy:
I see one, and up suddenly seems
a lot like down,
and I remember how the fever
of my mother's fury felt.

This is my contribution to L.L. Barkat's Random Acts of Poetry prompt: to write a poem about a certain street or street address. Links to poems by other RAP participants can be found in the comment box here.

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