Motel Bel Air

Dad pulls up in the Rambler, and
we see the sign first: POOL – COLOR TV.
Darkness fills the edges of the parking lot.
My brother and I plan to live up
to the promise of that sign. No trunks,
but some shorts Mom had packed for the next day.
She wearily agrees. Later, from the zero gravity
of turquoise-lit night water, I see Dad’s
cigarette lit like an orange rocket as he blows
white smoke skyward, sitting slumped in a plastic chair.

Sitting on white, wet towels, we watch Adam-12,
the red lights of the car, the psychedelic pads
of the bad guys and the navy blue of the police
making sense for the first time in our minds.
Mom and Dad pale, clothed figures by the pool.

Mom and Grandpa wake us up. No laughter, but
the simple “time to go, boys,” of trouble, funerals, reunions.
Grandpa’s Buick sits in the archway,
which I now see is dingy, peeling with daylight.

Inspired by some of James Lileks motel postcards, like this one.

5 thoughts on “Motel Bel Air

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  1. Road trips…something my family did every year when I was a child. You’ve captured the feel wonderfully here and the nuance of the difference between the child’s experience and the adults’.

    Love the last line, that first dawning of awareness for a child.

  2. This paints a picture at least as vividly as the postcard, I think. You bring each image to life masterfully. And there’s something rather sinister in Grandpa’s “time to go” that makes me want to know what the rest of the story is. “Peeling with daylight” is a great line.

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