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La Playa de Los Muertos & The Price


Liz St. Louis


La Playa De Los Muertos 


Do the spirits watch us swim? 

Do they hear the hard sigh of the foam 

up the afternoon-streaked sand, 

and the thud of our careless feet 

on the dirt track by their garden? 


Do the Glad-wrapped white and  

pink circles of plastic flowers 

comfort them, when the moon makes 

a hole in the velvet night 

and the village dogs bark and rut? 


Can they escape from their 

concrete block prisons, painted 

in ‘sugar almond’ colors- 

peach and cream and duck-egg blue 

bleaching in the daylight? 


Do they object to us staring  

through our foreigners eyes, 

swinging shiny cameras, capturing 

the ‘unusual’ of the scene, 

the cemetery by the sea? 


Would they ask their private Madonnas 

to watch over us, to make sure 

that the undertow doesn’t get us? 

Do we have their permission 

to play here, on the speckled rocks? 


Did they lie in the sun once 

on “La Playa De Los Muertos” 

“The Beach Of The Dead? 



The Price 


One:  Cote D’Azur 


You dance all day in the  

Mediterranean Sea, with breaks 

for caramel ice cream cones, 

and French lemonade in glass bottles 

with hinged rubber stoppers. 

Your  parents stroke Nivea Crème 

on your back, which just fries 

your nineyearold skin; 

a few days later, the illicit joy 

of peeling tissue-thin strips 

off the burn. 



 Two:  Caribbean 


Light sings on your shoulders 

paints crystals in the water, 

warms and fills your soul. 

These are bright beach weekends 

under the white hot arc 

of a tropical sky. 

You read, talk, and  

occasionally play Scrabble. 

At sunset you go home, 

aware of the afterglow, 

slap on green Aloe Vera gel. 



Three:  Mexico 


In a later string of years, 

for two weeks every February, 

the wavelengths beyond violet 

soothe and heal the bruises of life. 

By the pool decorated 

with Styrofoam rocks, 

you  lounge and drink Bloody Marys, 

two for one, Happy Hour starts at 3 p.m. 

You compete in tanning 

with your golden-toned girlfriend 

who only uses Factor 15. 



Four:  Olympia 


This year the reckoning; 

a little dark  mole 

is cut out of your back; 

the dues to pay, 


Malignant Melanoma. 


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