Michael LoStracco

Michael LoStracco


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.