It started when we stood hopefully,
with our thumbs outstretched
by an English roadside.
We were heading towards Italy and Yugoslavia
without maps or money,
or sense of direction.
And we made it to Italy.
and swam off the rocks,
with a man we’d met in a cafe,
because he said we could.
And we swam and swam until two policemen came,
(one very stern and one very twinkly),
and said we couldn’t.
Nor could we leave the rocks without clothes on,
or with clothes clinging to our still wet bodies,
or lie on the rocks until we were dry,
in case we disconcerted the traffic or populace.
This being the main street in Trieste.
And we made it to Pec and lived
in a house ‘typique du Turque’
with a water pump in the garden
and a toilet, also ‘Typique du Turque’,
which made us very ill indeed.
But the parties were good and
the conversations interesting,
Even though no one spoke English.
And we learned to speak some Albanian,
which was always handy.
And we survived to sit thirstily by a hot,
dusty roadside and fantasise
about the ice cold mountain water
streaming through the streets of Pec,
and even about the water pump in the garden.
And we made it back home.
We had got lost a lot,
but hadn’t got raped or murdered.
So far as we can remember.
First published by Silver Birch Press, Perfect Vacation Series, August 2015