Summer ’89

was gravel clotting in my eyes,
and dry heat fusing dust to lashes.
sam straddling the scaffolding, wielding a spade,
and calling out to ‘candyass faggots’
and little ‘b-minus’ schoolgirls
good-natured and self-conscious
about a harelip, full belly, or a birthmark rising
up thighs like lichen.

looking around, looking up from
mixing paints and flinging beer caps into
ribbed plastic cups, all our faces were burnt and peeling,
pale peeking through a deep, ruddy flush.
by august, we were arabs
and tugged our checkered boxers down
to compare tanlines.

we ate like minor kings,
candied walnuts and yogurt
drizzled over apples, julienned,
and avocados halved by sara’s deft, domestic hands;
she smelled like nutmeg searing in a frying pan.

i found a cockroach, carapace
melding to the wok, furrowed stomach frothing
beneath its flailing legs.
sam skewered it with a toothpick,
ochre cellophane billowing like a flag,
an absurd monument—
‘here lay the immortal,
bested by truffle oil.’

Alexandra Grigorescu