poetry : children , italian coast

italy

I realize N’s little naked body is too much for the sun chairs where we’re camped out once we come back from the sea. Although I must say their two little sand-covered bodies following me back to the shade – I’ve almost never loved them more. They look like childhood in these moments. Wild and unfettered. Like they’re going to be just fine. Like they belong here. A gecko scuttles past, long whispy toes. And I watch him head off the warm deck into the sand and suddenly I see gecko tracks everywhere. Thousands of lines with small winged marks on either side. Vines of this childhood. It’s not mine but I’m protective of theirs suddenly.

As I convince N to put on her underwear, and she asks why, L says, because no one likes to see naked people. I laughed. I wonder who told him that and in what context. I hear L tell N that his channel in the sand is bigger. She doesn’t respond directly, only says, we live here. We own this beach.’ I hope she’s speaking as a child because in this moment they do.

—Italian children play in sand bathtubs
 Made from Perrier
 The bubbly water keeps the beach
 From drinking it down too fast
 The spicy froth baths stay full
 All afternoon long
 And Italian children bask like
 Brown fish with colorful underwear
 Spread out next to their mud pots

From last year when I was a babysitter and went on vacation with the family I was working with.

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