Vox Populi

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Matt Hohner: Cold Spring Lane

Northeast Baltimore

In the Polaroid, they stand back-to-back, smiling  

in the yard behind the row house where she grew 

up. Their bellies are equally gibbous: Mom at eight 

months pregnant with my sister; Pop six years into 

retirement from the force, at a six pack or more a day. 

He holds a can of Budweiser in one hand and a spatula 

in the other. The grill smokes behind them by the chain 

link fence. Behemoth oaks loom in the woods across 

the alley, festooned lush domes harboring shadows

soft and dark on a Saturday afternoon. It is 1974. 

Seven years before she’d leave us, our family is still 

growing. I am three, playing somewhere off-camera

with my father, whose beard is still young and brown, 

his legs fleet, his arms strong, his body whole. Now 

the photo’s color fades, its edges yellowed, my sister 

weathered by three bad husbands, Pop’s gut gone to ashes,

my mother tremored by Parkinson’s a day’s drive away. 

Now the house on Cold Spring Lane sits dark at midday;

the legion of oaks across the back alley have long-since 

fallen to apartments. But a family lived there once, fat 

and swelling, where promise glinted brightly off the blade 

of a steel spatula, success was an ice chest crammed 

with beer on the back porch, and the future punched

at the womb, hungry for burgers about to be flipped.

Copyright 2019 Matt Hohner

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This entry was posted on June 3, 2019 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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