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Scouting Locations for A Commercial

ISSUE:  Summer 1981
He’d thought having them along
might make homeowners open. But
she’s platinum blonde and the baby
owes nothing to him. No one invites
them up for tea, into their family rooms,
onto their decks. Instead, she kisses
him big in a shady lane, her baby

squalling, a matron pumping down the walk,
looking askance. He’s quiet after that,
scouring the street for the perfect house.
Only round-shouldered garages
and white-frame bungalows rise
from the walks, architectures so
compromised it’s no wonder the doors
aren’t answered, though the car’s in,

the cat’s out. They’re afraid
of further concession. He polaroids
the yards anyway, fashioning
a panorama of normalcy: rose hedge,
startled cat, roiled gravel.
He buys mums, bunches and bunches,
to camouflage a crack in the step,
and sod to carpet a fraudulent

backyard. Parents make their little actors
lie about their age, he says, no child
plays as young as they look.
She primps. He turns the radio on.
They agree they love the City
and want none of those houses, none.
They don’t even buy a pumpkin
to weight her child’s window.


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