Google Maps Searching My Childhood: The Orange Blossom House
Our old chain link fence still stands rueful in its rust, bent in places but refusing to be moved by time without a fight. Streets were repaved like the city lit a path, an escape route, warning people to leave. The orange blossom flower is sickening in its sweetness. The white blooms were used in the bouquets of hopeful brides looking for bliss. The sweetness doesn’t meet the air here, and Orange Blossom Lane isn’t the place for happy marriages. There are no stay-at-home moms in this neighborhood. Mothers work fast food joints up the street, come home smelling like grease. On their nights off, they smell like vodka hidden under discount perfume, the closest you will get to the orange blossom tree. The fathers disappear, work or don’t work, but always smell like cheap smoke and beer on top of beer on top of beer.
My father will outdrink all the other fathers still left on the lane. He will drink so much that when he tries to stop, seizures rattle him in the backyard one night, and my mother will yell to my older sister to bring a spoon, so he doesn’t bite off his tongue. There is so much noise that the neighbor will ask if our dog is having puppies, but she shuts up when the ambulance parks in the street. I stand and watch the lights paint everything red as though the neglected children and the yard we stand in are bleeding together.
In my Google Maps search, I remember things: wild yards overgrown with Floridaness, palms spreading and shedding to the ground and the crunch of their brown bodies under my small foot, the curve of the street leading to the playground with an unfenced retention pond where a gator attacked a toddler, the gas station up the road where I got Reese’s cups while my father bought more Budweiser, and windows, broken by a hurricane or a baseball bat or that one time he used his fist to get back in the house, are still being fixed with plywood because it is cheaper than glass and takes its time to rot.
About the Author
Maggie Wolff is a queer poet and essayist. Her first poetry collection follows three generations of women navigating depression, addiction, and suicide. She recently won an AWP Intro Journals Award for her poetry, and her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Juked, and New Delta Review. She recently received her MFA from the University of Central Florida and is currently studying in the Ph.D. program at Illinois State University.