adriatic memories – #5

we were so young, one of us petulant in the extreme
refusing to remain in the car backing downhill, or
picking at food offered with nothing but reproof

the other two of us younger still not yet teens,
entranced by the smells at corners we named
on our daily walks to the sea – lavender, beer

and urine – little understanding the import
perhaps, but nonetheless loving the feel
of the exotic. It was an other world for us both,

getting sun poisoning and needing to stay indoors
under cool sheets in the dark for long hours
while her older sister went about her day

alone; or the time we huddled together
to watch “Some Like it Hot” from the stone-edged
window of the hall’s only bathroom, much to the outrage

of their parents and other guests; and how
could I forget the tortured hot-sun march
uphill under the father’s strict glare

while we chanted COLD – JUICY – PEACHES
both to keep us motivated and remind us
what awaited at the greatly anticipated end

of the climb. This was summer, early 60’s, on the island
of Hvar off Split (then Yugoslavia), with family
friends (German) and us two younger girls

so innocent. Who would have known then
that another decade or so hence I’d revisit
the same town with a different companion,

from whom I split over disagreements
concerning food, travel and lodging,
the prevailing custom being to choose,

on arrival by bus or train, the most appealing
person offering a bed for the night. Not much to go on
but proximity, since  bags were on us.

I spent two nights with a grandmother
who got up every hour to use her bedpan;
and another with folks I met along the way

still too young in my 20’s to understand
what was before me, let alone within; and now
nothing of that time or place is left to return to

but a handful of memories newly prompted
to which I shall gratefully return.


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