Rita Cortini


My father and I heard Rita Cortini
dancing upstairs on the hardwood floor,
landlords in our sleepless summer.
I was fourteen, he forty-four.
Rita wore her lavender circle earrings,
doing an unpartnered tango,
barefoot and as naked as our minds
allowed her. I thought of my father in bed
with my mother choreographing Rita Cortini
through her young furious dance.
I’d seen him watching her clothed sway,
seeing through her into some intention
where her skin was thinking him
way from us, a sixteen year old girl
too old for his mind.
he wore a tired slow look
like after a Pabst Blue Ribbon or two
he’d have me open, the joke-bartender.
Is that Rita? He’d ask of music above,
his smile starting and growing, sometimes winking,
making me gulp down knowledge too big
for my throat. I squinted at the floor, smiling,
seeing her dancing right into our breathing.

J.W. Major