Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘The Girls of Summer’ and other poems by Cynthia Pitman

By: Cynthia Pitman

The Girls of Summer

Splayed on striped towels,
strapped tight in polka-dot bikinis
gritty with sand,
sweating from the sweltering heat
and burning a crispy-crust red
from the hot beach light
of the white-bright sky,

we lined up side-by-side,
one after another,
as if skewered over
a Fourth of July barbecue grill,
seeking the bestowal
of summer-brown beauty
as we worshiped our idol,
the Sun,
never noticing that quick, cold shiver,
never knowing that someday
soon, soon,
our Sun would set,
taking our summers forever with it,
leaving our white skies dark
and our young, tanned skin
old and leathered hides.


The Laws of Physics

Just a touch away —
a touch that would close the gap
that time has put between us.
Just one touch
would smooth the scars
of past words whose bile burnt
but was never meant.
A slight leaning in.
A slow raising of the hand.
A surge of courage.
Just one quantum leap of faith
would cure the isolation.

Closer and closer,
atom by atom,
the loneliness of two
would stretch to grasp
a warmth, a grip,
a long-needed melding,
a long-sought mending.

But the sublime cannot eclipse
the corporeal;
two can never really
touch as one.
Infinite atoms build
a barrier of emptiness.
Atoms repel atoms
repel atoms repel atoms,
defying the tentative trust
that seeks to seal
the rift it longs to heal,
made by a void
that cannot be filled.
Without fail, the reach fails,
and always will.


Still Life in Lies

No noise.
I can hear it.
No soft hum of the evening insects.
No short croaks from the throats
of the nocturnal tree frogs.
No battle sounds of the moths
striking the porch light,
lured by the glow
of her fatal seduction.
I listen, alert.
No flow of red wine
coating the inside
of fragile crystal.
No static from the touch
of your hand to mine.
No slithering silk
sliding down my skin.
No soft.
No urgent.
No grip.
No sweat.
I hear it all.
The noise of your lies.


Coming in Second

She sleeps on your side of the bed.
She rubs her hand gently, back and forth,
on the soft, wrinkled sheets
we lie

She drinks her morning coffee in the back room,
not on the front porch where we could sit side-by-side.
She sips it hot.
It’s the only thing she wants to keep her warm.

She wears your old shirt around the house.
She puts it on after her shower,
then wraps her arms around herself,
holding it tightly to her chest.
She closes her eyes.
She breathes in, deeply,
then slowly breathes out.

She takes her walks alone.
She says it settles her mind.
Her walks are long, longer each time.
I wait for her for as long as it takes.

When we get into bed, she turns out the lights.
Not even the moonlight shines in;
she pulls the drapes.
We lie
in the dark.
I hear her crying.
I say not a word.
I know what she’s doing:
she’s thinking about you.

I know I’m losing
or I’ve long-ago lost.
But she’s mine now,
not yours.
She’s mine.


Working Woman: Trilogy

i. Madam

I lived in Ybor City once.
I ran a run-down brothel
for the weary and forsaken,
those frail, staggering ghosts
who roamed the streets alone.
Searching for some solace
wherever they could find it,
they stalked the lonely, forlorn streets
that wound their way through town —
streets littered with scraps outworn
that the desperate had discarded.
They would finally come to me
to purchase a stranger —
if only for an hour –,
to rest in warmth with someone
who would hold them close
and soothe their pain.
The hollow ache they hid inside
would finally subside,
so I would set them loose
in the streets
to wander on their way again

ii. Waiting

I worked for tips in Memphis.
They only cost me a smile
(add a flash of cleavage).
Man-oh-man, I laid it down
in that desperate town —
floury buttered biscuits and bacon
or fried green tomatoes
or country ham and grits.
I poured dark steaming coffee
to stir the thick inertia
of the country-blues singers —
the lost ghosts of Elvis
who were baby baby gonna set the world on fire
if only someone would notice
the spark of stardom simmering

in their eyes,
in their music,
in their blood.

While they waited,
they played their lives away
in run-down, beer-soaked dives

iii. Streetwalker

I walk the streets for cash now.
I wad up the dank and dirty bills
and stuff them in my pocket
to hide away.
They pay for a little cheap bourbon
to take home to my hovel
where no one ever visits
(but no one even cares).
The furniture is shabby.
The wooden floors are dark with dirt
tracked in from the streets where I ply my trade
to the weary and worn,
the forever forsaken
who roam those roads alone.
They seek solace in the quick, cheap sex
that I know so well.
So, for a price, I offer to relieve them,
if only for a few minutes, of their despair.
But they do not know, will never know,
that what I do is really for myself,
to soothe the pain within that comes from
always walking

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