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Anniversary Trip

Author: 
Caroline Natzler

The heat is second-hand, burns back from stone.

Arcades dark as skulls’ eyes.

Too hot to hold your hand,

besides, why risk it here?

We tread across the square to find a cafe

pick our way through a tangle of wrought iron

   chairs—

I hold them back like brambles for you to pass

trying courtesy.

We sit, the only women, our flesh heavy.

Pigeons strut around old canon balls

palm tree shadows waver, uncertain camouflage.

Midday.

A toddler chases a pigeon that can hardly be

   bothered.

Shriek, flurry, and stop. Shriek, flurry, and stop.

Swift groups of men finger small packages

as a policeman watches in a corner

his braids white.

The cafe table is scarred

and you’re crying because the tortilla is a cold slab

left over from last night.

 

From Magma No. 27 (Autumn 2003)