San Marino

The early aughts. We’re on a family vacation in the outskirts of Ravenna. A rental and a spontaneous suggestion: day trip – San Marino, it’s a country of its own! We get in the car; papá, his girlfriend, my sister and I. The air is ochre, drawing stark contrasts with the baby blue sky. I breathe it in through the open window. We don’t waste gas on air-conditioning.

On the way, we stop by a rustic road-side restaurant, family-style. The parking lot nothing but a rocky front yard. We’re the only patrons but papá has his dad gear on and insists on moving the car to a quote-unquote better spot. He drives it swiftly onto an unfortunately placed metal bar. Hiss as the tire breaks. Puttana-di-sua-madre! More swearing ensues. We go for lunch anyways.

The neighbor helps us with the spare tire, a comically tiny thing that gets us just about as far as the Rimini airport to the closest Herz. More swearing. It’s expensive to exchange a rental. We’re still going to San Marino if it kills us.

Finally, at the bottom of the lilliput state, papá announces that we have exactly fifteen minutes to climb uphill and see San Marino before e poi sbigniamo a casa. We try to argue. We’re not in a hurry. We’re on vacation. But there is no changing his mind.

So we run. We run up the rocky roads, passing idle groups of tourists, dodging street vendors and children. Sweaty. Out of breath. At the top, we finally pause and exclaim: che bella vista! Then we have exactly 30 seconds to take a picture and hurry back down, jump in the car and drive back home.

Christine Göös
Wolves

I am my sister’s keeper,
protect her from the wolves.
I locked the doors, I shut the blinds.
But the wolves remain within.

I am my sister’s keeper.
No-one guards her like I do.
When she runs, I lend her shoes.
When she cries, her tears I dry.

I am my sister’s keeper
and her history is mine.
Arm in arm, she sleeps
to my twisted lullabies.
 

Christine Göös
Dress Rehearsal

The show starts in ninety minutes, einlass in an hour. The girls need to be ready: primped, perfumed and poised by the time the crowds well in through the main gates of the circus. I sit in the corner of the dressing room, which, in reality, is an antique wooden caravan complete with a long makeup table and bulbs tracing the outlines of the mirror.

The ballerinas are all British. This was the time before the shows replaced them with cheaper labor from Russia and Kazakstan. These Kates, Janes, Maries are in their early twenties. Girls, really, but to me, they are the incarnation of the ideal female specimen. Lithe, long limbs. Flat stomachs result of hours of dance exercises. They exist on a diet of muesli and yogurt – fat-free because it is all the rage in the 90s.

I spend my entire summer in that narrow caravan just observing. How they comb their long, full hair under the hair net and place imaginative wigs, number after number. How they slip into the tiniest thongs I had never seen anyone use as underwear before. How they paint on their show face and help zip up the backs of their glittery ballgowns in all shades of pastel. It’s a dream.

Then there is the penultimate number right before the finale. Powdery, sky-high Marge Simpson hair with rococo costumes. Cornucopia-filled tables as dresses. I run back to our caravan and hand in hand, my sister and I ask to have costumes just like the ballerinas. We find cardboard boxes to perforate and cover them with nonna Daisy’s tablecloths. Checkered with flower and tomato and eggplant motif. We run around the circus grounds, showing off to everyone and anyone. We are convinced we’ll grow up to wear the real deal, one day, glistening in the circus ring spotlights. Every summer we practice as if we’d soon become part of the troupe. But we are not artists and we lack the discipline. We’re outsiders. Private people, they call us. We arrive at the dress rehearsal but it will never be the premiere for us.

Christine Göös
Kanye West Songs

Times Square in late afternoon.
I have traded the moon for the flashing lights,
neon billboards,
Kanye West songs.

They welcome me with pinks and blues.
Hues of my old hurt,
now amplified.

I never let you sleep, remember?
We had so little time,
the city drunkenly cat-calling me.

My neon lover,
your light was too much.
It blinded me
blindfolded me.

One of these days.
I’d like to fall asleep
and in love with you again.

Christine Göös
High Notes

We have conquered these hours,
but lost the night.
The darkest of your thoughts
now revel in my light.

Your resistance has drawn
a hundred sparrows in my back.
Their wings so bloody,
our eyes turned black.

I've arrived delirious,
I leave your house adorned.
Clothed in sweet nothings,
this queen of the damned.

You and I,
form a band that never was.
High notes trapped in my ribcage,
like the holy ghost they haunt me.

Embrace me in your sins,
draw the maps to your treasure.
And everything you’ve hidden,
in these verses I will save.

Christine Göös
The Jane Hotel

Expensive watch,
sold a startup or two.
Rooftop bars, Italian leather
you sleep on your best friend’s couch.

You move like a big fish
but you swim with the herd.
Young girlfriends no wives
or so I’ve heard.

Career advice we didn’t ask for
we make our own money.
40 and figuring things out,
now isn’t that a catch!

I am drunk off these dirties
- extra olives please!
We dance and I swear
you’re borderline handsome.

Red velvet my head is spinning
It’s my time to go.
Oye mamita,
won’t you let me take you home?

Christine Göös
Pastel Deck Chairs

Fresh off the plane,
the air vibrates in the tropical heat.
You take off your straw hat,
A chance encounter,  – good seeing you again.

The azure of the pool
sings its open invitation.
Splash! I sink in.
Holding my breath
like you hold your love.

“Her time has run out”, you say.
Nothing for us to do but lay there,
painting silence in our pastel deck chairs.

You and I, idle by the poolside.
The thought haunts me after it’s long gone.
The equator burns my eyelids.
Do you still taste the chlorine like I do?

Christine Göös