Growing up, my older sister used to tell me about her rendezvous
sneaking into this 'heart shaped pool' in this apartment complex,
several blocks away. We did not live in a wealthy neighborhood, but
I imagined the apartments where the 'heart shaped pool,' existed to be
where all the young 'yuppies,' as my dad referred to them, lived. I had
a vivid imagination. I was raised watching Dallas and Days of Our Lives.
Later, I'd picture it more like Melrose Place where the only time people
got in the pool is when they were pushed in for cheating on someone else
who lived in the building. My sister went a few times by day and true to
my dad's nature (if he found out), I remember him telling her he would
'not bail her out.' I took it seriously. Given my own deep desire for a pool,
I would have been there in a minute, but I actually believed it could cost
me a trip to jail. I wrote this poem when I was probably not even twenty.
When I was sixteen, my sister got pregnant with my nephew. It was also
the time that I really started to write. The poems compare the trajectories
of our lives at the time and also speaks to a depression/sadness that was
forming in me, that I've had to deal with my entire life. It stands as a story
of how our idealism shifts, how our heart shape pools get drained,
and how we idealize certain things in our youth that are so far from reality,
it's almost funny.
Heart Shaped Pool
Behind the fence on Eastman Avenue, the heart shaped pool. A temptation lap dancing us into need. We were young, but we knew sexy. We knew the pale singles trying to tan by the pool wanted more than sun. We new of cycles: the rinse, wash, dry, weather, water, life, but not yet of the love cycle. I had songs I sand in the garage about cigarettes and honeymoons. I had wine glasses at grandmas that clan beautifully with silver knives that made you kiss grandma’s cheek. I loved doing the dishes with just the light above the sink because the combination of hot sides and dim lights made poetry easy for me. I wrote hanky panky poems, cinnamon poems, candy heart poems, eventually I touch myself in the dark poems, but never love poems. You went to bonfires, felt awkward with beer and pre-marital sex on your Catholic breath. I went to a notebook and tended killer bees in the night. A gate closed, more swamp by our house plowed to build Duplexes with skylights built to give the room a ‘natural feel,” and the light above our sink burned out. I did the dishes in the dark as your belly swelled seventeen years in the making. In-between suicide naps and blank window gazing, I began to write poems that miscarried in the night. Stranded in the rain, a continent away from you, eating Gelato under pregnant moon, that herself, that felt unsure if she could handle the responsibility of romance swelling to life inside her. I thought about my night cooled river poems, the secret swimming holes I had gotten used to going to. The process of undressing, diving in, the unbearable presence of suspicion, the lip lock idea of being caught and unapologetic. I guess I’m still there on the other side of the fence on Eastman Avenue staring at the heart shaped pool, waiting got be the man who rips his shirt off and dives in. I think I’m beginning to recognize it’s the idea of being able to go there, that I love. The idea of what it could involve, the speculation of a dimmed light as my hands plunge wrists deep into warm, soapy water expecting warmth but still loving the unforeseen possibility of the unforeseen knife.