How hopeful, those first weeks in the apartment:
white walls and clean windows.
If you stood on tiptoes, there were the mountains
edged in snow. You lifted the baby and pointed:
See? See? then set him down to play
in a box of carpeted sunlight where he gummed
one bright toy after another.
You tapped in a few pictures, nothing too much,
and he crawled down the hall
following the hammer’s echo into the bathroom.
Twice you woke to the dank smell of ocean
trapped outside in the fog; impossible it seemed:
It was miles away.

That’s when the disposal still worked,
the dishwasher too, the industrious whirr of its motor,
the tiny red light’s glow.
No burn yet in the center of the stove,
no dark stains on the carpet,
no hot-faced crying baby,
no bent screen from trying to break back in.

You rolled the bike out onto the balcony
and covered it with a tarp,
a tiny area really, room only
for a little table, two chairs, no more.
And now when you drive in,
look up at all the balconies stacked
like crates in a warehouse:
the rusty hibachis, tricycles on their side,
dead palms dragged out and dumped.
There’s yours, right in the middle,
That one’s you.

Published in Mas Tequila Review, Lummox Press

Photo by Mihály Köles on Unsplash