Google Maps Searching My Childhood: The Orange Blossom House

Maggie Wolff

Our old chain link fence still stands 
rueful in its rust, bent in places 
but refusing to be moved by time without a fight. 
Streets were repaved like the city lit a path, an escape 
route, warning people to leave. The orange blossom flower 
is sickening in its sweetness. The white blooms

were used in the bouquets of hopeful brides looking for bliss. 
The sweetness doesn’t meet the air here, 
and Orange Blossom Lane isn’t the place for happy marriages. 
There are no stay-at-home moms in this neighborhood. Mothers work fast 
food joints up the street, come home smelling like grease. 
On their nights off, they smell like vodka hidden 
under discount perfume, the closest you will get 
to the orange blossom tree. The fathers disappear, 
work or don’t work, but always smell like cheap smoke 
and beer on top of beer on top of beer. 

Google street view of a house surrounded by a chain link fence | Photo courtesy of Maggie Wolff

My father will outdrink all the other fathers 
still left on the lane. He will drink so much that when he tries to stop, 
seizures rattle him in the backyard one night, 
and my mother will yell to my older sister to bring a spoon, 
so he doesn’t bite off his tongue. There is so much noise 

that the neighbor will ask if our dog is having puppies, but she shuts up 
when the ambulance parks in the street. I stand and watch 
the lights paint everything red 
as though the neglected children and the yard we stand in are bleeding together.

Image of a framed photo of two children | Photo courtesy of Maggie Wolff

In my Google Maps search, I remember 
things: wild yards overgrown with Floridaness, 
palms spreading and shedding to the ground 
and the crunch of their brown bodies under my small foot, 
the curve of the street leading to the playground 
with an unfenced retention pond where a gator attacked a toddler, 
the gas station up the road where I got Reese’s cups 

while my father bought more Budweiser, 
and windows, broken by a hurricane 
or a baseball bat or that one time he used his fist 
to get back in the house, are still being fixed with plywood 
because it is cheaper than glass and takes its time to rot. 

About the Author

Maggie Wolff is a queer poet and essayist. Her first poetry collection follows three generations of women navigating depression, addiction, and suicide. She recently won an AWP Intro Journals Award for her poetry, and her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Juked, and New Delta Review. She recently received her MFA from the University of Central Florida and is currently studying in the Ph.D. program at Illinois State University.