Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
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Hollywood Beach

At noon, on cue, the foghorn begins and an early haze starts to creep. I stand on the driveway by Old Mr. Benz. The sound of a stunt kite out on the beach beyond frizzes the marine layer. A monster face pokes out in yellow and orange, cuts the top of the house now unprotected and bare. Mimi ordered the trees razed in one go. A week before the finale. From her bed, infusion tubes stuck to arms, she watched limbs fall to ground. But the crows and their dark-croaked gossip, they are still there. By the stumps they stand, those birds that linger on.

Pat Forest hobbles by. His straw, Chinese-peasant hat on head. All these years, still that hat. “Hello there, girl,” Pat Forest says, stops, strains eyes. He’s pink, pockmarked. How old can he be? Ninety-three? Bunak. Mimi and Baba’s nickname for Pat. Old fart. I wave. Bak, bunak yasiyor. Old fart motors on.

“Little girl, do you know who owned this house?” Pat Forest says. Has he forgotten all? But of course he wouldn’t remember me. Back then, Pat Forest did his daily round right on the shore, would stop to chat with Baba and Mimi lain out on towels. And down below would be me. Me in the bottom of a deep sandpit Baba had dug. Thumb in mouth, nonsense tears down face. I was truly little then, my Mimi’s baby. My Baba’s karpuz kiz. What he would call me. My watermelon. We only came in summers from out east. And then once we lost Baba, Mimi needed to rent. Till the end that is. Where she wanted to be. For the home care and oxygen. The jars of uneaten mush food. For the needless need to consume. The long, gaunt nights of her cries for anne, anne, her own mother long gone.

“You know who owned this house?” Pat repeats. “David and Ayse. Big, beautiful arbors out front they flew all the way from Istanbul.” I nod, put a hand out to open the car door. “David drowned years ago.” Pat Forest tips his hat and limps onward.

The house has been sold. I prepare to leave and never return. Back to New York, back to the lonely drivel. On a final August noon, I bid adieu to the last relic. To the car shop I must go. Goodbye, Benz. Baba’s gift to Mimi. Nineteen eighty-two. Before I was born. The engine will soon fail, mechanics tell me. Tan leather seats. Wheel fit for a yacht. Tape player stuck to Mimi’s a la turka beats. Salt of sea in air that rides through windows. One last time. Before I get in, I let the sun heal my purple goose bumps. Once upon a time two months ago, a pair of two-hundred-year-old pines swung onto the driveway to shade. Chimes sang in the wind that comes with the midday harbor foghorn and blows along the long stretch of houses upon the coast along Ocean Drive.

But oh, that wheel. Star set in middle, rivets for fingers in the leather. Not a mark after all that time. The door pockets and middle holder—all stuck with rotted pennies, rusted gum, bits of sand. But not the centerpiece. I put my hands one angled above the other. Those summer afternoons when Mimi would drive to errands. The fish market. The strawberry fields. Harbor Mart. Her white-box-diamond sunglasses on her face. Fingers filled with rings she would twirl, admire in the light. The way the stones filtered through and shone.

Right here upon the very edge of the earth. I drive on near empty. The final stretch. Where marshland blends into Pacific with cranes and low-flown black pelicans, fluorescent beaks. Hundreds of snowy plover with snowflake feet. And way beyond, rolled green hills of Santa Barbara undulating in mollusk-scented mist.  

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