As through a prism, the city shifts
to rainbow. We cross into technicolor,
the famous marquee lipstick red
against blue sky. For the first time
without fear I hold my husband’s hand
in public, an act common here
as palm trees fanning in the sun.
Shops spill over with wigs and shot glasses,
big glossy books of erotica—
not how I imagined heaven,
but any freedom to breathe is paradise.
Up the steep street I float like Sisyphus
without a boulder, no divine punishment
to push. We are the gods here: whole
and holy, bodies glowing in the window
of a dim restaurant before we enter.
We order bread, olives, a glass of wine—
a still life in this light.
We make it last as long as we can.
Not like tourists tasting a final snapshot
but like lovers leaving a homeland,
passports in our pockets, salt on our tongues
savoring, with the time we have left,
a place where we belonged.
Phillip Watts Brown received his MFA in poetry from Oregon State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in several journals, including The Common, Spillway, Tahoma Literary Review, Orange Blossom Review, Grist, Rust + Moth, and Longleaf Review. His poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, as well as Best of the Net and Best New Poets honors. He and his husband live in northern Utah, where he works at an art museum. He also serves as a poetry editor for the journal Halfway Down the Stairs.