September 7, 2012

Anna Lowe Weber

SPRING BREAK 2011

     I know this street.
In New Orleans, they call it Bourbon,

     but here, it’s Duval.
Key West in March might have been

     a bad idea.
The first night, we make our way

     down to Duval,
push through the masses to find a restaurant,

     some semblance of quiet.
I just want a glass of wine, I tell my husband.

     Key West in March
might have been a bad idea. So many

     bodies in one place.
So many legs and arms and breasts exposed,

     slivers of ass
hanging out from under shorts

     like crescent moons.
Maybe I’m just jealous—these girls are

     only ten years younger
than me, but my ass never looked like that.

     Their nubile forms glisten
and from their belly-buttons, tiny rhinestones

     glitter and wink. I shudder
to think of one day having children of our own.

     I’m already plotting
the ways I’ll tuck them away for months, years.

     I just want a glass of wine.
A girl stumbles into me, presses her sweaty chest

     to mine. Her mouth
is stained red with some alcoholic berry slush,

     but she doesn’t spill
a drop from her cup. Whoa, she cries. Sorry!

     For the moment that
our bodies tangle, I’ve never felt so old.

     Spring Break 2011!
she shouts and moves back into the flow

     of the ocean of people,
disappearing down the street’s pulsing horde,

     a trail of whoop whoops
emitting from her throat like a never-ending

     magician’s scarf. Early
the next morning, I am back on Duval, running.

     As I count foot strikes,
the street is being hosed down, all evidence

     of last night’s revelry
disappearing in a stream of water mixed with

     urine, vomit, and beer.
Other streets are perfumed with jasmine,

     the sprawling, heady vines
carpeting entire trees. On these streets,

     people are gently rising
in pastel bungalows, waking through

     a slow series of stretches
and blinks, creamy morning sun filtering in

     from bedroom windows.
They’re sitting down to breakfast in the garden,

     the clink of silverware
tapping on plates and bowls just audible

     through the terraced walls.
At 3 a.m. the night before, I was pulled from slumber

     by a girl returning home.
In the shared courtyard of our condominium unit,

     I listened to her
retch and retch into what I hoped

     was the bushes.
Please not the walkway—at least

     not the walkway.
I rose from bed to check from the window

     and found her
completely naked. Breasts, ass,

     tiny manicured patch of hair.
She was bent over into (thank god) the hedges,

     but after a few seconds
she righted herself, body luminous, tan lines

     like tiger stripes
across her chest and pelvis. I watched until

     she staggered away.
Strange to call her beautiful, but she was.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist