Maria Giura

Manhattan Beach, 1970s

My mother and aunts took good care of us

all those summers at Manhattan Beach

my cousins, sisters, and I packed into

Aunt Anna and Uncle Dom’s 

big brown boat of a Cadillac,  

Aunt Anna sailing the Belt Parkway

then turning off 

Coney Island Avenue onto West End, 

the El above us, 

the salty ocean rolling in the windows,

my older sisters and cousins 

laughing so hard they snorted,

our mothers yelling, “Cut it out!” 

over Carole King singing 

“I Feel the Earth Move” on the radio

as I sat squished in the backseat. 

I remember tearing off my cover up, 

running for the water, 

swimming from 9 – 5 like it was a career 

except when I got called out. 

I’d insist I wasn’t hungry or cold

my lips as blue as a bruise,

the adults covering me in terry cloth, 

handing me a tuna sandwich

that they pulled from the insulated bag

decorated with scenes from Man of La Mancha.    

I remember my navy blue and green one piece 

and Aunt Rose combing the ocean 

out of my hair 

only for me to bring it back in. 

I remember the kissing teenagers

and the portable barbecues under the boardwalk.

I remember the wide open space 

and the sea of people, 

how safe I felt. 

There was no way all twelve of us fit 

in one car—

nine kids, three adults.

No way all our lunches 

fit in one cooler.

No way that only one song played

all the way from Dyker Heights to Manhattan Beach.   

Yet, that’s what’s I remember,

this and how my mother and aunts taught us 

to stay together,

how to spread out our blankets

and live.


Maria Giura is the author of Celibate: A Memoir (Apprentice House) and What My Father Taught Me (Bordighera Press). Her writing has appeared in Prime Number, Presence, Italian Americana, Lips, VIA, and Tiferet. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets award and was a judge for the Lauria/ Frasca Poetry Prize. She has taught at St. John’s University, Montclair State, and Binghamton University where she received her doctorate in English.