Swings hang silent and alone as we pass, even the breeze they offer not enough to entice. Remnants, once grass, sigh as we grind their brittle bodies into the ground, happy to finally have excuse to lay flat. Our sweat does little for the remainders, who thirstily catch each droplet. Salt burns their throats, yet they drink. The sun continues to smile, oblivious to what it does to us.
Step. Step. Step. Hope for relief keeps our feet moving as we cross the field from the parking lot to an oasis of concrete. Pipes rise from its face, tall stiff metal trees that gush waterfalls and spray showers. Kids of all colors, clad in vibrant suits and bare feet, run beneath. Between their cheeks, they are all teeth. Their gleeful cries worship the wet.
Adults rest on blankets beneath a lone tree. Limbs and leaves stretch to provide as much shadow as possible. Some talk, some just lay flat, their kids a mirage in the melting addled minds. Black birds watch, waiting for those that don't get back up.
A trail begins. Clothes, towels, shoes, everything unnecessary, down to our suits, in effort to reach and as our toes kiss the skim of cool water on its way to the drain our strength is renewed. The kids care less that we are feet taller and the only ones, they scamper from one sprayer to the next and wait for water to dump from overhead buckets.
When you hesitate, I take you in my arms and push us beneath the waterfall, which thunders against already pink skin, pasting hair flat to our heads, it massages our shoulders with firm fingers. We laugh in delight as if we were eight. When our wet lips meet, I no longer feel the sun's heat, though I know it still burns.
Rome may be ash by the end, but I refuse to let go of this moment.