by Tobi Cogswell

She turned 25 in Rome and now she is about to turn 50. Back then, traveling with three Israeli boys she met on a pier in Monte Carlo, she camped for two nights in the back of their station wagon, one night parked in center-of-the-street parking in Genoa and one night in God only knows and she doesn’t remember. The night before her birthday, faced with a roadside toilet in the middle of nowhere, wearing shorts that buttoned up the side, a leotard and cowboy boots, faced with a hole, a pole and painted footprints in the darkening night she started crying. She told the boys she was not camping one more night. She was waking up in a hotel with clean hair. If they wouldn’t drive her to Rome she would hitchhike or walk. The next day they bought her flowers and celebrated with orange soda and cake – 25 years later the flowers are still pressed into a photo album having been smuggled back and not declared as fruit, vegetable or any other type of farm product. Can turning 50 be any sweeter?

IMAGE: “Home for Lunch in Rome” by Pamela Allegretto. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tobi Cogswell is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Credits include or are forthcoming in various journals in the US, UK, Sweden and Australia. In 2012 and 2013, she was shortlisted for the Fermoy International Poetry Festival. In 2013, she received Honorable Mention for the Rachel Sherwood Poetry Prize. Her sixth and latest chapbook is Lapses & Absences (Blue Horse Press). She is the coeditor of San Pedro River Review.