The Marines are paddling their pre-parade maneuvers -
tubs of camouflaged, grease-streaked men are pulling up
and offering rides to teenage girls
giggling excitedly along the riverbank.
Four and five accept at a time, pulling down the edges
of their short-shorts as they climb in the boats,
skating their fingers across the tops of their enviable thighs.
My sister leans against me.
"That's as close as we'll ever get," she says conspiratorially.
Sitting in the front row at the Riverwalk Parade
carries some responsibility.
When the Fiesta royalty passes by,
buttering the air on their gaily-lit floats,
we are the first to clap, call, "Show us your shoes!"
Enthusiastic but not too rowdy;
no one wants to find themselves on TV the next morning
leaning forward, legs open and cleavage showing,
or worse yet, wolfing down the last fried chicken sandwich.
Behind us, middle-aged women
are throwing cascarones at uniformed float ushers
and missing. The brightly colored eggs glow
for a moment underneath the murk-green river surface,
return to the study: