In Which I Search Zillow® for My Childhood Home and Discover It’s for Sale

Poetry / Bill Hollands

:: In Which I Search Zillow® for My Childhood Home and Discover It’s for Sale ::

Our modest 1950s rambler  
now mid-century modern, façade  
crisp white. 40 years, 3000  
miles, one click and I’m  
in. Everything is white— 
the walls, the fireplace, even  
the living room’s old wood  
paneling. No more murky  
fish tank. Faux fir floors glisten,  
wall-to-wall all gone. I grew up  
here? 3D Walkthrough arrows  
show me the way. I stumble 
forward, pull up short, lurch  
again, a drunk, a toddler,  
a robot on the fritz. I zip  
down the hallway (wasn’t it  
longer?) to my brother’s  
lair, then my room—no more  
shelves for my beer can  
collection. Walls slant  
crazily as I careen around  
corners. Why can’t I  
find my parents’ room? How  
do I back up? I stagger 
to the kitchen, a movie  
set of stainless steel  
and granite. Through it all  
the staged furniture  
poses, Scandinavian blond 
wood, no clutter of records,  
trophies, dog bowls, Sports  
Illustrated. I need 
air, so I click Street View  
and pan around the old  
neighborhood, now  
gated McMansions.  
Charming family home.  
Move-in ready. Enjoy as is  
or tear down and build  
the home of your dreams! 



From the writer

:: Account ::

Some­thing about the real estate web­site Zil­low cap­tures the zeit­geist of this moment. Or maybe a zeit­geist since I don’t real­ly believe in just one. In any case, wit­ness the recent Sat­ur­day Night Live spoof in which the char­ac­ters browse Zil­low list­ings as a replace­ment for sex. The ulti­mate aspi­ra­tional fan­ta­sy, who doesn’t like to watch? Or, as in the case of this poem, search for one’s child­hood home? I bet I’m not the only one who has done this on a bor­ing Tues­day night. The expe­ri­ence gets even weird­er when you can (vir­tu­al­ly) go inside and match your inevitably dis­tort­ed mem­o­ries to the cold real­i­ties of mar­ket­ing. Mem­o­ry and fan­ta­sy merge with cap­i­tal­ism and the Amer­i­can Dream of home­own­er­ship, all (of course) in iso­la­tion and on a screen. What’s more 2021 than that? 


Bill Hol­lands lives in Seat­tle with his hus­band and their son. His poems have appeared or are forth­com­ing in Rat­tle, North Amer­i­can Review,DIAGRAM, The Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Poet­ry, Hawai’i Pacif­ic Review, The Sum­mer­set Review, and else­where. He was recent­ly named a final­ist for North Amer­i­can Review’s James Hearst Poet­ry Prize and a semi-final­ist for Iron Horse Lit­er­ary Review’s Nation­al Poet­ry Month competition.