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Portrait of a Girl, Gulf-Side by Rose Solari

From the winter snows of Canada, Rose Solari sends us a reminder of a warmer clime. Maybe it’s because Solari is also a novelist that she’s able to draw character from a gesture or a slant of light. The writer sees. The poet notices. The artist is a beautiful funnel channeling everything seen and not seen. What’s apparent is recorded; what’s not real is imagined. Solari is an artist of words, visuals, and even dance, making an indentation on the world. Grace Cavalieri

Portrait of a Girl, Gulf-Side

                   Naples, Florida


At first, I thought it was happiness 

that made her rock her head from left to right, 

again, again — that girl, maybe twelve, in her pink 


skirted two-piece, her dark hair swimming,

gorgeous, down her back. She clutched an Ipad 

in a thick pink rubber case. But when her family –


mother, grandmother, father? I was guessing —

claimed a table between the hotel’s heated pools, 

settled into their chairs, the soft after-lunch


light, she still stood, still rocking. It was then

I saw it: the insular twitch of her free hand,

how her jaw jutted a little to one side, how 


her eyes roamed, never settling on the table, 

water, sky. Both women coaxed her, with words 

and taps, into her chair.  In their square


of umbrellaed shade, the adults sipped sodas, 

while she drank nothing, always rocking, poking

from time to time at the pink slab still between 


her fingers. How could she read, moving like that? 

How could anything make sense? Done with their drinks,

the three of them rose, the man already off,


while the women gathered around her, tapping 

her shoulders and arms, saying, “Back to the room 

now, Abbey. Back to the room.” And Abbey rose,


and began her weaving walk between them, 

her left foot pointed straight ahead and plowing 

its way, while the right wandered a little, 


turned out from the hip, and beating 2/4 time,

as if as if inhabited by a phantom ballerina, 

who would, if she could, enable this girl to dance. 


Rose Solari is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, The Last GirlOrpheus in the Park, and Difficult Weather, the one-act play, Looking for Guenevere, and the novel, A Secret Woman. She’s lectured and taught writing workshops at many institutions, including the University of Maryland, College Park; St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland; the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University; and the Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Oxford’s Kellogg College in Oxford, England.