I was awkward and she was beautiful —
more so than the school picture she’d sent,
which led me to believe that she was awkward, too —
so when Celine arrived in Ohio with her black hair,
olive skin, and I swear to God, golden eyes,
I had to hate her at least a little.
So she befriended my mom instead, and maybe
it would have been better if my mom had visited
Caen and Paris the next summer, not me, because
I was still as awkward and she was still as beautiful.
But there I was, so I dreamed in another language
of flaming skeleton men playing violins in the sky,
and I went topless when I shouldn’t have gone topless
(I understood the permission but not the grammar)
and double cheek-kissed people needlessly.
Here is the old man in the wheelchair
on the cobblestones, playing a Casio keyboard
where maybe you expected an accordion.
Here we are at, What’s it called? The place
with the artists, not far from the white church
where I heard a busker singing, Cecilia,
you’re breaking my ‘eart? (A stranger gave Celine
an ice-cream cone just because she was beautiful.)
Here I am, topless on a beach in Deauville,
about to get the sunburn of a lifetime. Here I am
on the plane home, wearing new clothes
purchased on street corners, trying to figure it out:
how to be a whole new person in my same old life.
Today, dVerse Poets Pub prompted us to write poems about travel.