Random Review 2: The Stroller, by Larry William Fish
Those first few summers meant not so many
days at the beach for us, we just started out.
Sundays meant long walks with a baby stroller
on the streets of a small city, always in the 90’s,
always high humidity, always a chance of rain.
Up the street we’d go with a bottle and a diaper.
On the corner was the Eighth Day Lounge with
a pinstriped Yankees car parked by the back door.
Further down, Daisy’s Carniceria with it’s strange
smell of dead animal, we’d buy cans of Inca Kola,
loaves of Manteca bread, or bags of plantain chips.
Down the hill, into the tunnel with the train tracks
above us, the walls dripped and the sidewalk was
painted with pigeon poop, littered with broken glass.
I pushed you up long streets lined with multi-family
homes ,once owned by the richest of folks in Jersey.
Shut down stores, closed restaurants, and factories
now gave way to the Prima Vera bakery where rolls
called conchas piled high on glass display counters.
Sometimes I’d stop and get a Cuban sandwich or a
cup of espresso, but mostly we headed to the place
called Five Corners with a bagel and apple juice boxes.
We’d park on a bench by a sign that said how it was the
capital where colonists and settlers came to market with
their goods here, before it was called the United States.
We’d stop to listen to seagulls screech by the Armory and
look out at sailboats moored in the gray waters of the bay.
I’d speak to the baby, he’d listen, not knowing how to talk,
but he knew how to laugh and he knew how to smile when
I told him how someday; maybe we’d have a boat like those.
Larry Fish, who also goes by the Spanish name “Lorenzo” (i.e. Larry) is very much concerned with the family ties that bind, particularly that of father and son. Many of his poems touch on this theme.
Married to a Hispanic woman, his mixed-cultured household emerges now and then, but is always there, a substrata in his work. Who is he? Where is his home, culturally speaking? How has he challenged and re-defined the family in which he grew up? Has he married into the future of American ethnic (lack of ) identity?
Icons of the past: the Yankees, trains, the shut-down businesses of a culture that has moved on.
And yet, the future: the Yankees carry on, trains wobble by, new businesses open, a new culture moves in.
The laughter of the baby: a future longed for or derided? Does the baby laugh with joy or with ironic prescience? Has the American dream died or is the American dream always reborn?
And the words spoken to a baby, good intentions, lost in the gap of generations: each to forge its own path, deaf to the previous ones — the rebirth of the new, oblivious to the rebirth that came before.