Chanel Brenner


Back at the El Encanto Twenty Years Later


The hotel has aged backwards,

cracks filled in, chipped paint smoothed,

sagging walls lifted.

Atop the bluff a new pool

emits steam against the February gloom.


I try to remember the younger us,

iridescent light

reflected off a diamond –

running through the rain,

our tongues sweet

with champagne –


out of focus snapshots

with too much light

or not enough.


At dinner, I see a couple

on a love seat

sharing crème brulee,

faces beaming,

eyes fixated on each other.


Their lives together

stretched out before them

like an open road.


Look at us now,

our image small

like a reflection

in a rear view mirror.


I won’t say

the only difference

between them and us is time.


Our son’s death

a semi-truck

we didn’t see coming.

Chanel Brenner is the author of Vanilla Milk: a memoir told in poems, (Silver Birch Press, 2014).  Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Rattle, Cultural Weekly, Anderbo, Vine Leaves, West Trestle Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, and others. Her poem, What Would Wislawa Szymborska Do? was displayed at the James Whitcomb Riley Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana; and her poem, July 28th, 2012 won first prize in The Write Place At the Write Time’s contest, judged by Ellen Bass. In 2014, she was nominated for a Best of the Net award and a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and six-year-old son.