Hialeah-Miami Springs Then and Now Poem

Hialeah-Miami Springs, Then and Now – Poem by KB Ballentine

for my parents …

Saw palmettos sputter under autumn sun,
hibiscus burning bright in the landscaped parking lot.
Sand, salt cling to flip-flops, cola cans, skin,
scatter like a trail of breadcrumbs from car to store.

In 1965 checkered floors lacquered bright
at the East 2nd Avenue Publix ,
blinding under brand new bulbs –
bouffants and beehives, minis and stilettos
waltzed in for the weekly chore.

He ruled the meat department,
white apron strings wrapped twice around his flesh,
knew a T-bone from a porterhouse,
how to slice ham fine for the office party.
She, the green-smocked cashier, peering up
from Archie and Betty comics to slide
Jiffy Pop and Chiffon margarine past the register,
summing up the total with a smile.

He and his gang swarmed the Everglades,
glass-faced and breathing air through tubes,
they outraced sharks, tangoed with eels –
She and her friends surfed the waves,
tumbled onto shore to wax the boards,
tan under the salty skies.

Punching in late, they met, hands catching on time cards.
He asked her name, added One day I’ll marry you.
She laughed, cheeks flushed with sun.
The old store has altered its face now,
sambaed red and gold sabor with the original green,
plantains and ox tails stocked by salsa,
Latino music dancing with the palms – a new twist.

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