El Hotel Fantasma
Our guide said they were making condos
out of the closed-down hotel, overgrown
with dried beach grass, shadowy white
columns flanking the vacant lobby.
Maybe a golf course nearby. A virgin beach,
he called it. Honeymooners in our group waded
into shallow water, took photos of themselves
with outstretched arms. I sat at the abandoned
beachside bar on a stool risen from the sand, shards
of iridescent shell, sharp coral making the bar front.
Behind the counter, stainless steel mixers were silent,
clean. I wished for a piña colada and remembered
that pineapple juice hurts my stomach.
I wished for a cuba libre instead and wiped
the dirt from my eyes. I wanted to relax,
like a newlywed should, carefree and waxed
clean for the week. I held my disposable camera
too tight, thinking of the warnings of our guide,
that local children might pilfer our buggies and steal
our sunglasses and money so quickly and silently
that we wouldn’t notice until they’d slinked away
behind a palm tree. Like phantoms, I thought.
I checked my finger again for my
wedding band and it was still there.
Susan Elliott is the author of the chapbook The Singing is My Favorite Part (Etched Press, 2015). Her poetry has appeared in the Best American Poetry blog, Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, Reunion: The Dallas Review, and Broad River Review, among others. Susan received her PhD in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she won the Joan Johnson Award for Poetry in 2014.