The Vestal Virgins of East Van Buren
The vestal virgins of East Van Buren
bathe in the milky glow of the Econolodge pool,
after hours and between tricks at the Paradise.
They hop the fence in heels and ease into the water
with liquid grace, fan palms shifting
in the unanimal heat, cooling their dark bodies.
Fire-tenders in a tepid font, they glide soundlessly
and wonder Fourier’s law as their honeyed wake
laps up and wets the lip.
Soon, they’ll gather their things from a pile
by the ice machine and return to their cultic work
in dark rooms with strange men, but for now
they lie naked on the concrete, eyes afire
with chlorine, glazed with light and laughing softly
in the predawn pink, sharing a Newport.
New Moon Ritual at the Municipal Pool
A shiver of young girls done up like tiger sharks
practices relay laps, gliding back and forth
effortlessly in synchronous butterflies
and backstrokes, making only small perturbances
in waveless aquamarine.
Mother stalks the lengths, round in her flowing
sundress, and calls to them in tongues,
instructing the initiates in seamless aquatic
rites, as they alternately slap and spring
into the bathwarm shimmer.
In the shallows, three silvery crones wade
gently with pool noodles and offer buoyant
incantations between splashes of laughter:
the more I drank, the more I sounded
like Patsy Cline.
Here, gravity is temporarily displaced
as the women of the water perform their ablutions
for this approaching phase, when troubles wane
and finally disappear and fortune flows again
in renewed and waxing light.
Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Michael Gino LoStracco now teaches philosophy and world religions at George School in Newtown, PA, where he also lives with his wife and infant son. He is a second-generation Italian American, with roots in the Abruzzo and Friuli regions. All four of his grandparents emigrated to the US and worked with their hands so that he might work with his mind.