Age: 17, Grade: 12
School Name: Millennium High School, New York, NY
Educator: Maria Stasavage
Marlena drank a Red Bull a day
and bought me chocolate creme cookies
whenever I asked.
Granny was jealous,
bought meat at the market,
left it in her bag, partied all day,
returned at night to find that the meat had spoiled.
After the attack, she could only play manic
hysterical tornadoes of consecutive notes spiraling
out of the green shutters,
to ambush the pomegranate tree.
Sometimes I slept in the narrow bed in her room,
falling asleep watching her ornate, stone-encumbered earrings sway
in the cool breeze
wafting through the open balcony.
The house attracted cats like the harbor attracted boats.
To me it was a relic of a lifestyle I will never know, can never claim.
Irregular-shaped brass candle holders, sometimes a barely decipherable Chinese calligraphy character,
the memory of the once-owned Picasso sketch, sold to buy a house in Banyalbufar,
the pendulum cradle between the maroon spines,
tucked-away snowflake doilies,
piano music in piles, soft paper fraying like weathered friendship bracelets,
the patio table encrusted with hundreds of translucent brightly colored tiles reminiscent of sea glass and sand
on Friday nights would be littered with beer cans, cigarette stubs,
and ash stuck between the cracks,
the underground passageway to the garden lined with paintbrushes and skeletons,
and the mythical lion door-knocker, tarnished and lethargic with age,
at Dos de Mayo.
After Elie yelled at me for picking the basil wrong,
I retired to Granny’s balcony, looked through the binoculars and
spied people hanging up their white laundry on rooftop lines,
watched the cruise ships inch across the waterfront, refractions of light catching my eye,
chased the horizon to the farthest reaches of the sea where the transition between water and sky was indistinguishable.
Later Elie came up holding a plate of fish and rice,
by way of apologizing
told me Granny used to like to sit on the balcony too.
Just like I’m sure Granny would have been proud if she knew I play piano,
I wonder if she liked Debussy as much as I do.
At night, we walked the streets spattered in yellow hue,
spotted lizards scrambling along the stucco,
like moths, drawn to the lights,
smelt the fragrant bougainvilleas and jasmine that tumbled over neighbors’ walls like saccharine vanilla extract,
ate hazelnut ice cream along the black water,
saw the homeless eating strips of jamón straight from styrofoam packets and plastic wrap.
When we left the house for the last time,
the cold tiles resounded longingly,
the pendulum cradle gone.
Dad crumpled onto the kitchen table and sobbed for the first time,
unabashed and unrelenting,
and I had to get away into the garden and
ponder the pomegranate tree for the last time.
Sometimes a house can become a person.
For dad, Granny was Dos de Mayo.
I searched in vain,
but for me,
Granny was nowhere
in the flower pots reminding me not to pluck the hibiscus
because I never knew her when she wasn’t upset or frustrated.
Neither Spain, or Granny, or Dos de Mayo was mine
but one is entitled to their memories.
In Palma, I drank warm Laccao and fell asleep to the hoots of owls.
In Palma, in the sushined, sapphire eyes of swimming pool ubiquity even the doctor smoked.
In Palma, the languid heat slows the wheels of time.