“Who are you?”

In Issue 65 by Christopher Riesco

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Photo by Michal Matlon on Unsplash

Who are you?

Once, in an angular concrete hotel in Antibes,

you stood before the black curtain

with the massive sunlight on the other side

and a heartbeat in your chest.

You reached up, then dropped your hands.

You tapped your hands on your naked hips.

You reached up again and pulled the curtains wide.

You looked several stories down

on an empty round swimming pool

in a square of concrete

surrounded by vacant recliners.

The city grumbled in the background.

There was no one to see you.

You thought for a while,

then got dressed, and joined

your family for breakfast.

Now you're older, and it's traditional.

You undress smoothly, then drag

the curtains open briskly, and look down

inquiringly on the scene below.

Different hotel, different swimming pool,

different recliners.

These ones have people on them.

You study them like a seasoned pro.

The hotel is called the Hotel Hurricane

and the pool is surrounded by tall palm trees.

The window you appear in is arched, Moorish.

Some people are in the opposite role,

always on a recliner, looking up at glass.

Chancers. Because you never know.

The figure who never appeared

in one hotel might be waiting in another.

In Tarifa, perhaps?

You are such a person.

Look to your right and left.

The innocent are snoring,

mouths open in the sun.

You scan the windows.

Some of us are on the desk, always,

next to a bowl of complimentary mints, and the people

who pass through pay more attention to the mints.

Our suits are polyester. We might be

from one of the old families of Jaffa,

and you wouldn’t know.

In Palma where the avenues are flat and wide

and the tiled roofs and wiry trees

catch the light and the breeze off the sea

it is easy to have two jobs, teaching

Yoga one day, volleyball the next.

Your neighbourhood is called Gentilico.

Your lessons take place on the beach

called Playa Ciudad Jardín.

Your teaching pays for you to sit in a blue kaftan

on the balcony of your house, with one of your proteges

giving you head, grateful for your hand in their hair.

Or you could always be one of those people

who stands outside a particular house in the evening,

and one of the residents walks out to meet you,

and gives you paper money, and you pass them

a little bag and walk away calmly. You’re in direct

sight of the customs office and you don’t care.

From the little ferry port below, the white ships pass

from Lemnos to Samothrace and Mytilene.

About the Author

Christopher Riesco

Christopher Riesco is a graduate of the MMU Writing School. Efforts at poetry have appeared in PN Review, Bodega, and other journals.