In 2006 after almost four decades of making a fine living as an explainer (science and educational writing, software and product development), Nancy Hechinger experienced a coup de foudre in a workshop (she was forced to take a poetry class–a longer story) with Dorianne Laux, who read Curtains by Ruth Stone, Beauty by BH Fairchild…and that was it––she had a ‘you must change your life’ moment. Now she strives never to explain anything.
Nancy Hechinger’s poetry has appeared in Red Wheelbarrow, Salamander, Pirene’s Fountain and will be published in the upcoming New York Quarterly. Her chapbook, Letter to Leonard Cohen, will be published this spring by Finishing Line Press.
She teaches in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, a graduate school in New Media, lives in New York City by the Hudson, which although it’s not the Med, also has its powerful charms. Cruise liners bound for the Mediterranean pass by, water taxis, people in kayaks.
My brother and I, laid out flat as cadavers,
racing that summer to achieve
the darkest tan on a beach
just south of Marbella.
the scratch of the sand
the air sticky with salt.
We lay still, believing inaction
provided the path to our ideal:
our poreless skin, burnished brown
as a caballero’s saddle, lickable as honey.
Every night, after family dinner,
we walked to the Morrocan disco,
a stunning duo, courageous together
to let go of our reserve easily
as the straps of my sundress
looped off my shoulders.
He was tall and handsome,
my younger brother. The blond woman
with hair down to there pressed
against him, looked into his eyes
for answers. And I moved my hips
in a way I never did at home,
counting off in beats the seconds
it took for my dancing partners
to harden against me––
one with slick-backed Spanish hair,
an older man whose evening beard
scraped my lips,
the spindly-legged bandleader
who wanted to marry me
and come to the States.
We’d creep back just before dawn,
our parents and younger siblings
in heavy sleep. The improbability
of it all: no curfew, no tethers,
our miraculous bronzed bodies.
the crows perched on the gate
outside the house, riffling
their feathers, as if they alone
had waited up for us,
and who flew away at our approach.
All poems on this post: © Nancy Hechinger
photo by: © Julia von Eichel
Published with the permission of Nancy Hechinger