Two swans paddle the length of a fountain
in a restaurant by the tourist beach.
Each with a metal band cinched to one leg
catching light as it slides between the foot and joint.
They dip their necks forward.
I imagine they are racing.
From the bar, you return with a friend
who owns the best gelato chain in the city.
We kiss each other’s faces.
He laughs when I say that I love ice cream.
Then, only to you in Spanish,
I could eat her face. I could eat her face.
Could she get an American girl for me?
At the end of the fountain, there isn’t space
for the birds to turn their long bodies.
They hit the wall and soundlessly tear at each other’s wings.
Then shake until their feathers settle. Continuing.
Underwater, polished rocks littered
with bread crusts and coins the size of pennies.
Taneum Bambrick is the author of Vantage, which was selected by Sharon Olds for the 2019 American Poetry Review/Honickman first book award (Copper Canyon Press). Her chapbook, Reservoir, was selected by Ocean Vuong for the 2017 Yemassee ChapbookPrize. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s MFA program, she is the winner of an Academy of American Poets University Prize, an Environmental Writing Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Arts Center, and the 2018 BOOTH Nonfiction Contest. Her poems and essays appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, PENAmerica, Narrative, West Branch, The Missouri Review, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. She has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.