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 Positano bathrooms are the same as
other beach bathrooms: floors wet
cement, faucets dribbled onto or tore
at our hands. There was barely space
in the stalls to tie into our absurd string
bikinis. You are whiter than the beach!
an old man said. And the beach is gray.
The days, 14, flew. In a place flooded
with tourists, locals try to blend in and
fail, like we failed. One Gino did a U-
turn in his compact BMW to introduce
himself. Gemelle? he asked, then
looked at the Celtic band on my sister’s
ring finger. If only Gino knew she had
diaper rash from the heat, that we forgot
cameras and preferred the beach after 5
pm. We wrote post cards we meant
but didn’t send, walked and walked and
walked around predetermined parts of
Italy, spending money strictly on espresso,
gelato, and beer, rarely wine, loved
Naples and wished we’d never stepped
foot on Capri. I’d believed taxi cabs
would rob you and California would be
like Italy, except without her, but she
didn’t love her boyfriend of four years
anymore, whom I love like a brother,
and I managed to be surprised and hurt
all the same. Could I really refuse to
know her? I wrote another poem about
this trip, but it’s a letter: ‘Exhaustion.
I am me, you are you. Of course.
The rims around my eyes shot and hold.
We walk steps and steps, together.
A lizard eats another lizard. I walk to be
finished, but it doesn’t happen. I wait to
be alone, but I am never alone. The sky hangs
wide, forgets the sea, the sun we do not miss
when it isn’t there. In my mind, right in
front, I try to cement this garden, walking
up and through on stone, to tell our father
of, but he needs the names and I can’t ask—
Up and up, my legs get bigger, longer, thick-
er lungs smaller. Tendons tighten, blood
tries. The sun does not loosen. The steps
grow shallow. Did we ever hold hands?
Maybe in the sky.’ Just now my hand-
writing looks like hers, and I wonder if
I could be her, or if I simply was for
that moment. I get to be the one I miss.
Posted 11/02/10
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