At Grand Hotel Poseidon, Paestum
Here, the hotel owner’s daughter kissed my brother on the cheek
after we raced the glass elevator up and down the stairs,
skidding in patterned ankle socks along the red carpet
until we were banned from taking the elevator at all.
Which didn’t stop the girls from giggling Ah,
such ladies’ man, such charming,
and I thought of how the daughter’s cropped hair curled darkly,
soft at the nape of her neck.
On the beach we stretched out towels striped in blue and white,
stolen from our hotel shower stands and aching for sun.
Even our small bodies craved something bright
for the emptiness spilling out of our mouths.
Under the fan of grape leaves a busboy loosened his collar,
tossed his handful of crumbs into the flowerbed,
saying Hey, Cutie, where you from?
Down the curve of the beach a woman removed her bikini top.
We stared with our mouths, sat on our hands.
How golden she was, lit from within,
hard and precious like slow pitch, amber, basalt.
Planks nestled in the sand guided us towards the water,
and my brother, rubbing his cheek, slipped in.
I followed, pinched and pulling at the swimsuit stretched over my belly,
full of bread with pressed olives and red wine vinegar that spiced my tongue,
the same red that poured into my brother’s face
where the owner’s daughter lit her kiss,
before we tore down the sand-spiked street to the sea so full of salt, they said,
we would bob high on our backs like corks.